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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

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

Editing & Additional Material by Mike Simmonds

HMS Warspite, 1944, Normandy (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

QUEEN ELIZABETH-Class battleship ordered from HM Dockyard, Portsmouth after approval of design in June 1912. The ship was laid down on 31st October 1912 and launched on 26th November 1913. She was the sixth RN warship to bear this name, last used for a cruiser of 1844 which was sold in 1905. This warship gave a most notable service, which began in March 1915. Her build cost was £2,524,148, excluding items such as guns and wireless equipment. In WWI she was present at the Battle of Jutland and in WWII received considerable renown as shown in the following Chronology. In March 1935 HMS WARSPITE was taken in hand for reconstruction at Portsmouth and was the first of her class to undergo an extensive modernisation. Work done included modifications to her 15in armament to increase the elevation possible and therefore range attainable. Other changes were made to her secondary armament and improved anti-aircraft arrangement were fitted. Provision was made for carrying four aircraft and two hangars were fitted. The most distinctive change made was the change of the forward structure which was redesigned. Work was completed in March 1937 and she rejoined the Fleet later that year. For details of original design and of the modernisation see BRITISH BATTLESHIPS by Alan Raven and John Roberts. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings Campaign in March 1942 the ship was adopted by the members of the London Stock Exchange who maintained an interest in her ship's company and her achievements throughout the war.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

CADIZ 1596 - ORFORDNESS 1666 - SOLEBAY 1672 - SCHOONVELDT 1673 - TEXEL 1673 - BEACHY HEAD 1690 - BARFLEUR 1692 - VELEZ MALAGA 1704 - MARBELLA 1705 - LAGOS 1759 - QUIBERON 1759 - JUTLAND 1916 - NARVIK 1940 - NORWAY 1940 - CALABRIA 1940 - MEDITERRANEAN 1940-43 - MATAPAN 1941 - CRETE 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941 - SICILY 1943 - SALERNO 1943  - NORMANDY 1944 - WALCHEREN 1944 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1944 - BISCAY 1944

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Green, a Ship’s Gun (circa 1660) Gold.


M o t t o

Belli dura despicio: ‘I despise the hard knocks of war’





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 3 9


3rd - At Alexandria (Capt. Victor Alexander Charles Crutchley VC, DSC, RN). Flying the Flag of CinC Mediterranean Fleet, Admiral Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham. Deployed with 1st Battle Squadron which also included battleships BARHAM and MALAYA.

11th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships BARHAM and MALAYA, cruisers DEVONSHIRE, SUSSEX, ARETHUSA and PENELOPE, and destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, MOHAWK and SIKH for gunnery exercises.
In the evening BARHAM and PENELOPE detached and returned to Alexandria, SUSSEX detached for Malta and  aircraft carrier
GLORIOUS joined the fleet from Alexandria.
The Fleet then proceeded to the west of Crete to cover the passage of convoys GC.1 and Green 1. Following which they patrolled in the area until the 16th.

17th - The Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.


9th - Sailed from Alexandria to carry out exercises in company with battleships MALAYA and BARHAM,  aircraft carrier GLORIOUS, cruiser PENELOPE and destroyers BULLDOG, DAINTY, DARING, DUNCAN, GALLANT, GIPSY and GRAFTON.

13th - At the end of the exercises en route to Alexandria, MALAYA, GLORIOUS, BULLDOG and DARING detached for Aden.
The Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.
Nominated for return to Home Waters for duty with 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet. Took passage for Scapa Flow.

29th - Departed Alexandria escorted by destroyers DAINTY and DIANA.

31st - Arrived at Malta, where she underwent a brief docking.


4th - Sailed from Malta escorted by destroyers DAINTY and DIANA.
En route to Gibraltar her deployment was changed to cover the transit of Atlantic convoys.

6th - Arrived at Gibraltar and refuelled.
Sailed from Gibraltar escorted by destroyers DAINTY, DIANA, ILEX and ISIS.

7th - DAINTY, DIANA, ILEX and ISIS detached.

14th - Arrived at Halifax.

18th - Sailed from Halifax in company with destroyers HMCS ASSINIBOINE and ST LAURENT escorting convoy HX 9.

20th - ASSINIBOINE and ST LAURENT detached.

23rd - (At 1551 hours the CinC Home Fleet received a signal from HM Armed Merchant Cruiser RAWALPINDI, patrolling the Iceland - Faroes gap, timed at 1545 hours stating she had sighted a German Battle cruiser, this was quickly changed identifying the vessel as the Pocket Battleship DEUTSCHLAND. The first sighting report was in fact correct what she had sighted were the SCHARNHORST with GNEISENAU in company)
Following receipt the report from RAWALPINDI, WARSPITE was ordered to detach from HX 9 and proceed to the Denmark Strait then to round Iceland outside the 100 fathom line to a position 20 miles due north of Kalso Lighthouse, north Faeroes.

29th - At 0800 hours all search forces commenced a sweep to the north following the trend of the Norwegian coast with battleships NELSON and WARSPITE on the western flank.

30th - At 0800 hours on reaching 66-10N all forces turned on to course 270¼.
At 1300 hours all forces turned on to course 195¼.


1st - At 0900 hours the search was called off and WARSPITE was ordered to proceed to Portsmouth.
(En route her destination was changed to the Clyde. This change was made due to RODNEY having incurred rudder damage which put her out of action)

4th - Arrived in the Clyde escorted by HM destroyers EXMOUTH, ECLIPSE and ECHO.

7th - In the Clyde where CinC Home Fleet Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes hoisted his flag and WARSPITE became Flagship of the Home Fleet.
(It had been intended the CinC Home Fleet would shift his flag from RODNEY to NELSON but on 4/12/39 NELSON was mined in Loch Ewe and put out of operation)

13th - At 1930 hours sailed from Greenock in company with battleship BARHAM and HM Battle cruiser HOOD screened by destroyers INGLEFIELD, ICARUS, IMOGEN, IMPERIAL, ISIS and FOXHOUND. Off the Mull of Kintyre the Fleet was joined by destroyers FORESTER and FIREDRAKE from Loch Ewe. Course was then set westward to take up an interception position and to provide cover for the first Canadian troop convoy TCI carrying 7450 Canadian troops to the UK.

(This deployment followed a report from HM Submarine SALMON, received by CinC HF at 1605/13/12/39, reporting an attack on enemy battle fleet and from course given the indication was that the enemy could be in the Fair Isle channel by 2100/13/39, thereby posing a threat to the troop convoy. It later transpired that the enemy force was 5 destroyers covered by 2 cruisers returning from a minelaying operation, laying mines off the entrance to the Tyne)

16th - The Fleet arrived at a position 300 miles west of Malin Head from where it provided cover for the troop convoy TC.1.

17th - At 0917 hours arrived back at Greenock with BARHAM, HOOD, ISIS, ICARUS, IMPERIAL, FOXHOUND, SOMALI, INGLEFIELD and IMOGEN.
(For details of naval activities in Home waters during 1939 see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and Naval Staff History)

1 9 4 0


14th - Sailed from Greenock escorted by destroyers FORESIGHT, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, FORTUNE, FEARLESS, FIREDRAKE, FAME, and FURY of the 8th DF to carry out a patrol of the NW approaches.

17th - The force arrived at Scapa Flow.

18th - Sailed from Scapa Flow in company with HM Battle cruiser HOOD and destroyers FURY, FAME, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FIREDRAKE and FORTUNE. To provide distant cover for the Northern Patrol and Norwegian convoys.

24th - The force arrived back in the Clyde.


9th - At 1130 hours sailed from Greenock in company with Battle cruiser HOOD escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR, FAME, FOXHOUND, FORTUNE, FURY, FORESIGHT, FIREDRAKE and FORESTER of the 8th DF. The Fleet sailed north to cover the passage of Norwegian convoys ON 11 and HN 11.

10th - At 1900 hours west of the Shetlands, FAME and FORESTER were detached to refuel at Sullom Voe. 11th On patrol north west of the Shetlands.

12th - At 0600 hours north west of the Shetlands FAME and FORESTER rejoined the Fleet and FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND and FORTUNE were detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.
At 1430 hours FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND and FORTUNE rejoined the Fleet, following which FURY, FORESIGHT and FIREDRAKE detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.

13th - At 1750 hours north west of the Shetlands FORESTER detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.

14th - On patrol north west of the Shetlands.

15th - Early in the morning FURY, FORESIGHT and FIREDRAKE rejoined the Fleet and course was set for to return to the Clyde.

16th - At 1900 hours the Fleet altered course to close the Pentland Firth. This was so the heavy units would be available should the Germany Navy react to the ALTMARK operation.

17th - At 0530 hours to the west of the Pentland Firth, following the conclusion of the ALTMARK operation, the Fleet set course for the Clyde.

18th - At 0930 hours the Fleet arrived back at Greenock.


16th - Departed the Clyde at 1400 hours escorted by destroyers HARDY, HOTSPUR, HOSTILE and HUNTER.

17th - At 1600 hours arrived at Scapa Flow

19th - At 1445 hours sailed from Scapa Flow in company with Battleships RODNEY and VALIANT escorted by destroyers HARDY, HERO, HUNTER, HASTY, HOTSPUR, HYPERION and HOSTILE of the 2nd DF.

(This sailing was on Admiralty order that the Fleet should be at sea during the moonlight period between 19th and 26th March, because it was thought that the German air force might try to drive the Fleet out of Scapa Flow).

During the period of maximum moonlight the Fleet cruised to the north of the Shetlands and provided heavy cover for the Norwegian convoy HN 20 and ON 21.

27th - At 1100 hours arrived back at Scapa Flow in company with Battleships RODNEY and VALIANT escorted by destroyers FEARLESS, FORESTER, HUNTER, HASTY, HERO, HOTSPUR, HARDY, HOSTILE and HYPERION.


Nominated to join the Mediterranean Fleet.

4th - At 0130 hours sailed from Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers GRIFFIN, MOHAWK, HERO and JUPITER for the Clyde.
JUPITER was relieved by destroyer DELIGHT later on the 4/4/40.
HM Destroyer ASHANTI relieved HERO late on the 4/4/40.

5th - At 0600 hours arrived in the Clyde escorted by ASHANTI, DELIGHT, GRIFFIN and MOHAWK.
On arrival in the Clyde GRIFFIN and MOHAWK detached and returned to Scapa Flow.

7th - Sailed from Greenock escorted by destroyers HESPERUS, HAVANT and MACKAY for Gibraltar where she was due to arrived on 12/4/40.

8th - Recalled on passage to Gibraltar to rejoin Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

(Note: PINK LIST of 9th April shows the ship as part of Home Fleet and ship may have been deployed in NW Approaches when ordered to rejoin Home Fleet ships in North Sea. See Naval Staff History (HMSO – 2001))

9th - At 1445 hours arrived at Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers HESPERUS and HAVANT. MACKAY which had been in the escort was detached at 1610/8/4/40 and returned to Liverpool.
At 2130 hours sailed from Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers ESCORT, JAVELIN, JANUS, JUNO and ECLIPSE. The force set course for a position 10 miles north of Muckle Flugga.

10th - At 0500 hours 10 miles north of Muckle Flugga the WARSPITE force RVed with  aircraft carrier
The combined force then proceeded on course 115¼ at 16 knots to join the CinC Home Fleet.
At 0730 hours the force joined the Home Fleet in position 61-24N, 2W.
The fleet then steered north to a flying off position for FURIOUS’s Swordfish to attack Trondheim.

11th - At 0400 hours at 64-24N, 7-55E off Trondheim FURIOUS launched 18 torpedo carrying Swordfish against shipping in the harbour. No hits were obtained.
All the aircraft returned between 0630 and 0700 hours.
From 1540 to 1700 hours the Fleet was bombed by German aircraft, during the attack the ECLIPSE was hit and damaged.
At 1700 hours the Fleet was in position 64-48N, 7-52E.

12th - At 0730 hours in position 66-27N, 6-00E, off Vestfjord the Fleet was joined by HM Battle cruisers RENOWN and REPULSE.
At 1450 hours VALIANT, REPULSE, JANUS, JAVELIN and JUNO were detached to make contact with convoy NP 1.
Between 1615 and 1655 hours FURIOUS flew off 17 Swordfish armed with bombs to attack enemy shipping in Narvik.
Plans were then made for destroying the German naval forces at Narvik. This was to be an attack by a battleship heavily escorted by destroyers in conjunction with an air strike by aircraft carrier FURIOUS aircraft.

13th - Took part in Operation DW, which became known as the Second Battle of Narvik.
At 0730 hours WARSPITE, flying the flag of Vice Admiral W J 'Jock' Whitworth, RVed with in position 67-44N, 13-22E with the Force B comprising destroyers FORESTER, FOXHOUND, HERO, COSSACK, BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, ESKIMO and PUNJABI. The force then proceeded to enter Vestfjord.
At 1038 hours off Tranoy Light destroyer ESKIMO joined the force.
At 1152 hours WARSPITE catapulted one of her Swordfish floatplanes, L9767,
flown by PO F C Rice, Lt Cdr W L M Brown and L/A M G Pacey, for reconnaissance duties and with orders to bomb any suitable targets. (During her sortie the Swordfish located U 64 at anchor off Bjerkvik in Herjangs Fjord in position 68-29N, 17-30E. U 64 was dive bombed and two 100lb ASW bombs were dropped on U 64, one of which hit her bow and sinking U 64. This was the first U-boat sunk by the FAA)
At 1259 hours WARSPITE opened fire with her forward 15in turrets.
At 1530 hours WARSPITE recovered her Swordfish.
At 1755 hours WARSPITE escorted by destroyers FOXHOUND, BEDOUIN, HERO and ICARUS retired from the area and got as far as Vestfjord.
At 2050 hours she reversed course and returned to Ofotfjord to assist the damaged COSSACK.

14th - At 0250 hours WARSPITE arrived off Narvik where she took on board wounded from COSSACK and PUNJABI.
(The Second Battle of Narvik resulted in the sinking of 8 German destroyers and a U-Boat)
(For details see NARVIK by D Macintyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval Staff History).

15th - Remained off Narvik screened by HOSTILE, HAVOCK and FOXHOUND pending arrival of other warships from UK.

17th - Covered  aircraft carrier FURIOUS during flying operations west of Lofoten Islands.
(Note: No fighter aircraft available on board and role strictly limited. Warning of approach of German aircraft from shore by observers such as

19th - Sailed from Vestfjord for Rosyth escorted by destroyers HAVOCK, HOSTILE, HERO and FOXHOUND, was attacked by U.47 from 900 yards with two torpedoes with magnetic pistols, one missed and the other exploded at the end of its run. The escorting destroyers subjected U.47 to a heavy depth charge attack, and WARSPITE was recalled to Narvik.

24th - Part of bombardment force comprising WARSPITE, cruisers AURORA, EFFINGHAM and ENTERPRISE and destroyer ZULU that carried out a 3 hour bombardment of Narvik. The bombarding force was screened by destroyers ENCOUNTER, ESCORT, FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, HAVOCK, HERO, HOSTILE and Polish destroyers BLYSKAWICA and GROM.
(For details of disastrous naval operations off Norway see above reference
and NARVIK by D Macintyre).
Immediately after the bombardment WARSPITE departed Narvik for Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers HAVOCK, HOSTILE, HERO and FOXHOUND.

26th - At 1615 hours arrived at Scapa Flow in company with HAVOCK, HOSTILE, HERO and FOXHOUND.

27th - At 1100 hours sailed from Scapa Flow for Greenock escorted by destroyers INGLEFIELD, HERO and FOXHOUND. (Prior to sailing Captain Crutchley handed over command to Captain Douglas Blake Fisher OBE RN)

28th - At 1100 hours arrived at Greenock.

30th - At 2020 hours sailed from Greenock escorted by destroyers HERO, FOXHOUND, FIREDRAKE for Gibraltar and duty with the Mediterranean Fleet.


1st - The destroyers detached and returned to the Clyde.

5th - Off Cape St Vincent WARSPITE was met by destroyers DOUGLAS and WRESTLER who escorted her into the Mediterranean.

6th - Off Alboran Island DOUGLAS and WRESTLER detached and destroyers KEPPEL, VELOX and VORTIGERN took over the escort.

7th - Arrived at Malta with KEPPLE, VELOX and VORTIGERN.
After refuelling sailed from Malta escorted by Australian destroyers HMAS's VENDETTA, VOYAGER and WATERHEN.

10th - Arrived at Alexandria and joined the 1st Battle Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

11th - At Alexandria where Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham hoisted his flag on WARSPITE and she became the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet.
Following her arrival she was deployed with Fleet units for extensive exercises in anticipation of the Italian entry into the war.


Deployed at Alexandria.

11th - (Italy declared war at 0001hours on 11/6/40)

12th - At 0230 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleship MALAYA,  aircraft carrier EAGLE screened by destroyers DAINTY, HASTY, ILEX, JANUS, JUNO, NUBIAN and HMAS STUART, VAMPIRE and VOYAGER to carry out a sweep west along the African coast.
At 0840 hours cruiser CALEDON joined the fleet at sea.
At 1325 hours cruiser CALYPSO joined the fleet at sea and destroyer MOHAWK joined later.
At 1840 hours destroyers HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE, HYPERION and IMPERIAL joined the fleet.
At 1953 hours HMAS STUART, VAMPIRE and VOYAGER detached from the fleet.
Later destroyer DIAMOND joined the fleet.

14th - The Fleet returned to Alexandria.

(Admiral Cunningham had stated before this sweep 'I expected to spend most of the daylight hours beating off bombing attacks'. In fact the Fleet never saw a plane. This Cunningham concluded was most encouraging!!)


4th - Took part in negotiations with French Fleet after capitulation of France.

7th - The Mediterranean Fleet sailed from Alexandria to cover passage of Convoys MF1 (Fast 13 knots) and MS1 (Slow 9 knots) from Malta. (Operation MA 5).
The Fleet was divided into three sections, forces A, B & C - Force B comprised WARSPITE, and destroyers NUBIAN, MOHAWK, HERO, HEREWARD, and DECOY.
Later that night, Italian submarine BEILUL sighted and attacked the Mediterranean Fleet without success 32-40N, 28-10W. Later, she was able to report her sighting to the Supermarina.

8th - At 0800 hours 200 miles east of Malta HM Submarine PHOENIX sighted and reported the Italian Fleet. Resultant of this report a Sunderland of 228 Sqd. was dispatched from Malta to locate and shadow the Italians.
WARSPITE and the Fleet proceeded in a generally NW direction and during the day the fleet was under air attacks from a total of 126 high level bombers. WARSPITE and EAGLE were generally selected as the main targets, but no hits were achieved on either ship.
At 1515 hours the Sunderland reported an Italian Fleet of 2 battleships, 6 cruisers and 7 destroyers, 100 miles north west of Benghazi, sailing north.
At 1600 hours the cruiser GLOUCESTER received a direct hit on her bridge.
On receipt of the report the Mediterranean Fleet altered course in an attempt to cut off the Italians from their base at Taranto.

9th - At daylight WARSPITE was 60 miles west of Sapientza LH, SW Greece, with 4 light cruisers of Vice Admiral Tovey’s 7th CS ahead and air reconnaissance placed the Italian Fleet 145 miles ahead.
At 1200 hours, when 90 miles east of the Italian Fleet, Cunningham in WARSPITE decided to proceed at WARSPITE’s best speed of 24 knots, leaving MALAYA and ROYAL SOVEREIGN behind.
At 1448 hours off Punta Stilo ORION sighted the Italian Fleet, but the first sighting report was made by NEPTUNE.
WARSPITE catapulted off one of her Walrus aircraft which acted as artillery spotter.
At 1517 hours the Italian Fleet opened fire at 23500 yards, concentrating on the 4 cruisers of the 7th CS, thus commenced what became know as the Battle of Punta Stilo or the Action off Calabria.
At 1526 hours WARSPITE opened fire on 4 Italian Heavy cruisers that were attacking the 4 light cruisers of the 7th CS, causing the Italian cruisers to turn away under smoke.
At 1552 hours 30 miles west of Punta Stilo WARSPITE and the Italian Battleship GIULIO CESARE opened fire on each other at 26,000 yards.
At 1559 hours two 15in shells from GIULIO CESARE overshot WARSPITE and landed 400 yards over causing slight damage to DECOY and HEREWARD.
At 1600 hours a 15in shell from WARSPITE hit GIULIO CESARE amidships, near the funnel, causing damage on the upper deck, putting 4 out of 8 boilers out of action, reducing her speed to 18 knots and causing 115 casualties of which at least 24 were killed. The tactical result of this hit was immediate, the Italian Fleet turned away under smoke covered by their destroyers and headed for the Strait of Messina.
Twice during the action the WARSPITE changed course to allow the slower MALAYA to catch up, but MALAYA never got within range.
By 1700 hours the enemy was no longer in sight and WARSPITE was within 25 miles of the Calabrian coast. The Fleet turned south for Malta under high level bombing attacks from Italian SM 79’s. No hits were scored but there were several near misses.
(Note: Enemy ships could not be closed owing to lack of speed.)
(For details of operations during 1940-43 see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C. Barnett, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D. MacIntyre, THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and A Massignani and the Naval Staff History (HMSO-2001)

10th - At 0830 hours EAGLE flew off a strike force against shipping in Augusta roads.
At 2030 hours off Malta ROYAL SOVEREIGN and attendant destroyers detached to refuel at Malta. WARSPITE, MALAYA, EAGLE and attendant destroyers proceeded to the south of Malta to await ROYAL SOVEREIGN.

11th - At 1000 hours ROYAL SOVEREIGN and attendant destroyers rejoined. Following which the combined Fleet consisting of WARSPITE, MALAYA, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, EAGLE, GLOUCESTER, DAINTY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE, HYPERION and ILEX set course for Alexandria covering convoy MS1 (MS1 had sailed from Malta early on 10/7/40)

12th - Between 0850 and 1150 hours, WARSPITE was attacked by high level bombers but sustained no damage.

13th - At 0600 hours arrived at Alexandria.

19th - At 1100 hours WARSPITE and destroyers departed Alexandria and swept to the northwest.

(This sailing followed the report of HMAS SYDNEY and her destroyers being in action with 2 Italian cruisers, the BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI and GIOVANNI DELLE BANDE NERE, the former was sunk in the action off Cape Spada)

20th - At 1000 hours arrived back at Alexandria.
Later in the day the Mediterranean Fleet sailed from Alexandria to carryout an attack on Tobruk where it was thought the Italian cruiser GIOVANNI DELLE BANDE NERE had taken refuge.

21st - Arrived back at Alexandria.

27th - At 0300 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships MALAYA and RAMILLIES,  aircraft carrier EAGLE escorted by destroyers DECOY, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JERVIS, JUNO, NUBIAN and MOHAWK to cover the passage of convoy AS2/1.
South of Crete the fleet was joined by cruisers NEPTUNE and HMAS SYDNEY.

28th - The fleet divided. South of the Kithera Strait
WARSPITE, ILEX, IMPERIAL and HYPERION proceeded ahead of the Fleet and were joined by destroyers HOSTILE and JANUS from Alexandria.

29th - The ships arrived at Alexandria at 2000 hours.


Under refit at Alexandria.

16th - At 1030 hours the Mediterranean Fleet comprising battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA, RAMILLIES, cruiser KENT and destroyers HOSTILE, HEREWARD, STUART, WATERHEN, VENDETTA, DIAMOND, NUBIAN and MOHAWK sailed from Alexandria on Operation MB 2.
(Operation MB 2 was the bombardment of Bardia)

17th - Between 0658 and 0720 hours the Fleet bombarded Bardia

18th - The Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

30th - At 0445 hours the Mediterranean Fleet comprising in company with battleship MALAYA,  aircraft carrier EAGLE, cruisers ORION and HMAS SYDNEY escorted by destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, HEREWARD, IMPERIAL, HMAS STUART, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA and VOYAGER and Polish ORP GARLAND sailed from Alexandria on Operation HATS/MB 3. The Fleet sailed towards the Gulf of Taranto.

(The objective of Operation HATS was to cover the passage of reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet and convoy MF 2 for Malta. Convoy MF 2 was weakly escorted by 4 destroyers to act as bait to invite an attack by the Italian Fleet).

31st - Early in the morning the Fleet was joined by cruisers KENT, GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL and destroyers HASTY, HYPERION and ILEX, returning from a sweep of the southern Aegean.
On reaching a point approximately 100 miles west of Cape Matapan the Fleet turned south.
At 1554 hours KENT, GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL detached from the Fleet to join convoy MF2.
At 1700 hours when the Mediterranean Fleet was approximately 150 miles west of Crete the Italian Fleet (comprising 4 battleships, 14 cruisers and 39 destroyers that had sailed from Taranto at 0600/31/8/40) was only 120 miles north west of their position making a Fleet action very likely. However at that point the Italian high command, who knew of the convoy but not the presence of the Mediterranean Fleet, ordered the Italian Fleet to return to base.
At 1815 hours the Fleet turned west heading for towards Malta and DECOY was detached to join convoy MF2.


1st - At 0900 hours west of Malta the Mediterranean Fleet RVed with Force F from Gibraltar, and turned with Force F towards Malta. Force F comprised  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, battleship VALIANT, cruiser ORION and destroyers WRYNECK, GALLANT, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, and HOTSPUR.
At 1010 hours VALIANT, HYPERION, DECOY, HASTY, and WRYNECK were detached to Malta
At 1504 hours HM AA Cruiser COVENTRY and destroyers JANUS, JUNO, NUBIAN, and MOHAWK joined the Fleet at sea.
At 1657 hours east of Malta the Fleet divided into three forces for Operation MB 3.




(Operation MB 3 was an operation to attack Italian installations in the southern Dodecanese).

At 2200 hours on passage from Malta STUART suffered a broken steam pipe and was ordered to join convoy AS 3.
At 2330 hours VALIANT, HYPERION, IMPERIAL and JANUS joined Force I from Malta. Following which JANUS joined Force E.

2nd - Carrying out operation MB 3.

3rd - Carrying out operation MB 3.


28th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleship VALIANT,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and cruisers YORK, ORION, and HMAS SYDNEY to carry out Operation MB 5.
(Operation MB 5 was an operation covering the transport of 1200 troops to Malta in the GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL).

29th - Early in the morning the Fleet was joined by cruisers GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL with 1200 troops embarked.
STUART suffered a broken steam main and was ordered to return to Alexandria alone.
The Fleet was under air attack for most of the day and in the evening WARSPITE was straddled and three crew were wounded by splinters.

30th - At 1126 hours a Fulmar from ILLUSTRIOUS reported sighting an Italian force of 7 cruisers and 7 destroyers in position 34-04N, 18-25E. On receipt of this report Cunningham altered course towards the Italian force.
At 1245 hours another aircraft reported sighting 4 battleships and 10 destroyers in position 37-45N, 18- 15E, this was 116 miles from the Mediterranean Fleet. On receipt of this report Cunningham altered course away from the Italian Fleet. (The actual Italian Fleet at sea was 5 battleships, 11 cruisers and 20 destroyers)
At 1450 hours GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL were detached to Malta. YORK and MOHAWK were stationed twenty miles 350 degrees and forty miles 340 degrees from the Main Fleet


1st - At 1245 hours destroyer HMAS VOYAGER joined the Fleet from Malta.
At 1700 hours ORION and SYDNEY were detached to carry out a sweep of the Gulf of Athens.
At 1745 hours GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL rejoined the Fleet.

2nd - The Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

8th - The British Mediterranean Fleet comprising battleships WARSPITE, VALIANT, MALAYA and RAMILLIES,  aircraft carriers EAGLE and ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers YORK, LIVERPOOL and GLOUCESTER of the 3 CS, ORION, AJAX and HMAS SYDNEY of the 7 CS and destroyers HYPERION, HAVOCK, HERO, HEREWARD, HASTY, ILEX and IMPERIAL of the 2 DF, DAINTY, DECOY, DEFENDER and HMAS VAMPIRE and VENDETTA of the 10DF, JERVIS, NUBIAN, JUNO, and JANUS of the 14 DF departed Alexandria on Operation MB 6.
(Operation MB 6 was an operation to cover Malta bound convoy MF 3 and return convoy MF 4. Convoy ME 4 included HM Gunboat APHIS)

9th - Convoy MF 3 sailed from Alexandria.
At 0254 hours cruiser LIVERPOOL and destroyer DIAMOND joined the Fleet at sea.

10th - At 1715 hours RAMILLIES, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX and NUBIAN detached from the Fleet to refuel at Malta. At intervals through the day and during the 11th the various units of the Fleet detached to refuel in Malta.

11th - At 1105 hours IMPERIAL was mined and badly damaged, she was towed into Malta by DECOY.
At 1600 hours convoy MF 3 arrived at Malta in company with ORION, STUART and VENDETTA. At this time the main body of the Mediterranean Fleet was 100 miles south east of Malta, where it was sighted and reported by an Italian civil airliner.
At 2245 hours convoy ME 4, which included river gunboat APHIS, sailed from Malta escorted by cruisers CALCUTTA and COVENTRY and destroyers WRYNECK and HMAS WATERHEN.
Late in the evening following the return of all the refuelled units, the Fleet turned for Alexandria. (To the north east of Malta positioned in anticipation that a convoy would be sailing from Malta were 4 Italian destroyers, 3 torpedo boats and 4 MAS boats)

12th - During return passage to Alexandria, at 0200 hours, 125 miles west of Malta, and about 70 miles north of the convoy. The 3 Italian torpedo boats launched torpedo attacks on the northern most unit of the Fleet, which was AJAX, all of which missed. However AJAX after initial confusion opened fire on the attackers at 4000 yards sinking ARIEL and ARIONE. In return AJAX received 3 hits from AIRONE. (AJAX was equipped with type 279 radar which was a long range air search set and of little use in a surface engagement). Immediately the 4 Italian destroyers came to the aid of the torpedo boats and at 0230 hours ARTIGLIERE launched a torpedo attack which AJAX avoided. AJAX managed to damage the AVIERE and severely damage the ARTIGLIERE. In return ARTIGLIERE hit AJAX 4 times, putting her radar out of action and damaging a twin 4in mount. At the time of the second engagement the moon had set and the lack of flashless powder caused problems for AJAX’s gunners.
At 0235 hours when the Italian destroyers withdrew behind a smoke screen AJAX broke off the action since Capt. McCarthy believed that he had been in action against 4 destroyers and 2 cruisers.
(This action is known by the Italians as the Battle of Cape Passero).
The gunfire drew other cruisers of the Mediterranean Fleet to the scene, but they arrived too late to see action.

13th - At dawn the damaged ARTIGLIERE under tow by the destroyer CAMICIA NERE, was sighted 107 miles west of Malta by a Sunderland. The Sunderland’s sighting report resulted in an air strike by Swordfish from ILLUSTRIOUS, without result. Also YORK, AJAX and 4 destroyers were despatched from the fleet and arrived at the position at 0900 hours. CAMICIA NERE slipped the tow a made off and YORK finished off the ARTIGLIERE.
At 1100 hours south east of Gavdos Island convoy ME 4 was joined by convoy AS 4 that had sailed from Piraeus.
In the evening the Fleet divided and ILLUSTRIOUS, GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO and NUBIAN headed into the Aegean.

14th - Early in the morning Swordfish from ILLUSTRIOUS carried out an air strike on the airfield on the Island of Leros.
At 0840 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS Force rejoined the main body of the Fleet and the combined Fleet then set course for Alexandria.
In the evening the Fleet came under air attack and at 1845 hours 70 miles SE of Crete, LIVERPOOL sustained an aerial torpedo hit in the starboard bow, delivered by an Italian torpedo aircraft. At 1920 hours the petrol storage compartment exploded, blowing the roof off A turret roof, the port gun fell into the sea and a fire was started. DECOY and HEREWARD stood by.
At 2230 hours ORION took her in tow, towing her backwards at 9.5 knots towards Alexandria escorted by DAINTY, DECOY, DIAMOND and VAMPIRE.

15th - At 0100 hours the Mediterranean Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

29th - At 0130 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships RAMILLIES, VALIANT and MALAYA,  aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and EAGLE escorted by destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, DEFENDER, DIAMOND, HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, JANUS, JERVIS, JUNO, MOHAWK and NUBIAN. The Fleet sailed towards the west of Crete on Operation CHURCH. (Following Italy’s attack on Greece on 28/10/40 the Greek Government invited Britain to set up a base at Suda Bay on the north coast of Crete.
(Operation CHURCH was the operation covering the military convoys carrying personnel and stores to Suda Bay).
Late in the evening south of Crete cruisers YORK, GLOUCESTER, ORION and HMAS SYDNEY joined the Fleet.

30th - The Fleet continued to sail north west and at 2000 hours the Fleet was 126 miles west of Cape Matapan.

31st - At 1630 hours 75 miles west south west of Cape Matapan WARSPITE, ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, GLOUCESTER, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, ILEX and JERVIS detached from the Fleet and proceeded towards Alexandria. The rest of the Fleet remained cruising to the west of Crete.


2nd - At 1900 hours WARSPITE, ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, GLOUCESTER, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, ILEX and JERVIS arrived back at Alexandria.

6th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships RAMILLIES ,VALIANT and MALAYA,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers YORK and GLOUCESTER, destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, JANUS, JERVIS, JUNO and MOHAWK on Operation MB 8 and Operation COAT. Later the Fleet was joined by cruisers AJAX and HMAS SYDNEY from Suda Bay.
(Operation MB 8 was to provide cover for the passage of Convoy MW 3 [sailed from Alexandria on 5/11/40] to Malta and Convoy AN 6 [sailed from Port Said on 4/11/40] to the Aegean. Operation COAT was the passage of reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet).

7th - Covered the passage of convoy AN 6 and MW 3. The two convoys proceeded together from off Alexandria towards west Crete. (Operation MB 8).

9th - In the evening RAMILLIES, HAVOCK, HYPERION and ILEX detached for Malta to refuel.

10th - The Mediterranean Fleet cruised to the south east of Malta.
At 1015 hours Force F, comprising battleship BARHAM, cruisers BERWICK and GLASGOW and destroyers GALLANT, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN and proceeded by destroyers FAULKNOR, FORTUNE and FURY acting as minesweepers, RVed with the Mediterranean Fleet.
Force F (The reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet, Operation COAT) entered Valletta harbour to disembark their troops and supplies and the 3 F’s to refuel.
At 1330 hours convoy ME 3, which included monitor TERROR, sailed from Malta, escorted by RAMILLIES, COVENTRY, DECOY, DEFENDER and HMAS VENDETTA.
After disembarking their troops and supplies BARHAM, BERWICK, GLASGOW, GALLANT, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN sailed from Malta and joined the Mediterranean Fleet sailing east.

11th - Covered passage of convoy ME 3 from Malta to Alexandria.
At 1310 hours AJAX, ORION, HMAS SYDNEY, MOHAWK and NUBIAN detached from the Fleet to carry out a raid on Italian military convoys in the southern Adriatic.
At 1800 hours ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, BERWICK, GLASGOW, GLOUCESTER, HASTY, HAVOCK, HYPERION and ILEX detached from the Fleet to carry out Operation JUDGMENT.
(Note: The successful air attack on Taranto (Operation JUDGMENT) by aircraft from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS during the night of 11/12th November was also covered as part of Operation COAT).


13th - The Fleet and convoy ME 3 arrived at Alexandria.

25th - At 0325 hours sailed from Alexandria as part of Force A which comprised battleships WARSPITE and VALIANT,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and destroyers DECOY (for repairs at Malta), JERVIS, JANUS, JUNO, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, GRIFFIN, WRYNECK and HMAS WATERHEN and set course for Suda Bay.
At 1200 hours the troopship ULSTER PRINCE joined the Fleet at sea.
At 1600 hours cruisers YORK, GLASGOW and GLOUCESTER of 3rd CS joined the Fleet at sea.
At 2330 hours off south east Crete ILLUSTRIOUS, GLASGOW, GLOUCESTER JANUS, JUNO, MOHAWK and NUBIAN detached from the Fleet and proceeded ahead to a flying off position 60 miles north east of Suda Bay to carry out Operation MB 9.
(Operation MB 9 was an air strike on the Italian seaplane base at Port Laki on the Island of Leros)

26th - The Fleet followed astern of the ILLUSTRIOUS force to provide distant cover.
At 0300 hours ILLUSTRIOUS flew off 15 Swordfish on Operation MB 9.
At 0600 hours ILLUSTRIOUS recovered 14 Swordfish.
All Fleet units then proceeded to Suda Bay to refuel arriving between 0700 hours and 0830 hours.
At 0800 hours destroyers HERO and HEREWARD arrived at Suda Bay to join the Fleet.
At 1030 hours Force A sailed from Suda Bay to carry out Operation COLLAR.
The 3rd CS comprising YORK, GLASGOW and GLOUCESTER detached to patrol to the north of Force A.
(Operation COLLAR was the passage of 1400 troops embarked on MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON, from Gibraltar to Alexandria. To pass three freighters from Gibraltar, two for Malta and one for Suda Bay. To sail reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet from Gibraltar to Alexandria)

27th - Force A proceeded towards Malta.

28th - Force A patrolled north of the MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON force sailing for Alexandria.

29th - At 1800 hours arrived back at Alexandria.


16th - At 0100 hours the Mediterranean Fleet comprising battleships WARSPITE and VALIANT,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers AJAX, GLOUCESTER, ORION, YORK and HMAS SYDNEY and destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, JUNO, MOHAWK, GREYHOUND, DAINTY, HYPERION, ILEX, HERO, HASTY and HEREWARD sailed from Alexandria on Operation MC 2.
(Operation MC 2 was a complex operation involving distant cover for convoys to and from Suda Bay to Piraeus, AS 9 and AN 10. Convoy from Malta to Alexandria, ME 5A. An air strike against Rhodes and Stampalia. Forming part of the operation was Operation HIDE which was the passage of the MALAYA through the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and distant cover for convoys to Malta, MW 5A and MW 5B)
At 0745 hours YORK, GLOUCESTER, DAINTY and GREYHOUND detached and proceeded to Suda Bay to refuel.

17th - At 0352 hours in position 35-49N, 25-24E ILLUSTRIOUS flew off a strike force of 6 Swordfish against Rhodes.
At 0435 hours ILLUSTRIOUS flew off a strike force of 5 Swordfish against Stampalia.
At 0600 hours with all aircraft recovered the Fleet headed for Suda Bay.
At 0830 hours the Fleet entered Suda Bay to refuel.
At 1130 hours VALIANT, ILLUSTRIOUS, JERVIS, JUNO, JANUS and MOHAWK departed Suda Bay sailing west.
At 1415 hours WARSPITE escorted by HYPERION, ILEX, HERO, HASTY and HEREWARD departed from Suda Bay sailing west.

18th - At 0130 hours south of Cape Matapan the WARSPITE, VALIANT forces RVed and the Fleet then proceeded toward the Strait of Otranto to carry out Operation MC 3.
(Operation MC 3 was an anti-shipping sweep into the Adriatic and a bombardment and air strike against the port of Valona. In the event because of the weather conditions the air strike was abandoned).
At 1600 hours south west of the Island of Zante ORION, AJAX, SYDNEY, JERVIS, JUNO and MOHAWK detached and proceeded ahead into the Adriatic to carry out the anti-shipping sweep. (This force went as far north as 41-08N without sighting any shipping)
At 1800 hours north west of the Island of Cephalonia ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, GLOUCESTER, DAINTY, GREYHOUND, GALLANT and GRIFFIN detached and proceeded to position 39N, 20E to fly off the air strike, but due to the weather the strike was abandoned.

19th - At 0115 hours off Valona WARSPITE and VALIANT opened fire on the port area and airfield.
At 0120 hours after the firing of 96 rounds of 15in the bombardment was checked and WARSPITE, VALIANT, HYPERION, ILEX, HERO, HASTY and HEREWARD proceeded south west for Malta.
At 0630 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS force and the ORION force rejoined.
At 1200 hours YORK, GLOUCESTER, ORION, AJAX, SYDNEY, DAINTY, GALLANT, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN and HASTY detached to cover the Malta convoys MW 5A and MW 5B

20th - At 1440 hours WARSPITE, JANUS, JERVIS and JUNO arrived at Malta.

21st - Early in the morning WARSPITE sailed from Malta.

24th - Arrived back at Alexandria.


1 9 4 1


2nd - At 1830 hours the Mediterranean Fleet comprising battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM and VALIANT, cruisers GLOUCESTER and YORK, HM AA Cruiser CALCUTTA and destroyers JANUS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, WRYNECK, DIAMOND, VENDETTA and GALLANT sailed from Alexandria on Operation MC 5.
(Operation MC 5 was the bombardment of Bardia in support of Operation COMPASS the Western Desert Force offensive against Italian ground forces).
At 2100 hours the Fleet was joined by  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, escorted by destroyers GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, ILEX and JUNO.

3rd - At 0600 hours ILLUSTRIOUS, GLOUCESTER, YORK, WRYNECK, DIAMOND, GALLANT and VENDETTA detached from the Fleet for ILLUSTRIOUS to operate aircraft as necessary and to provide fighter cover over the bombarding force.
Anti-aircraft protection was provided by CALCUTTA, escorted by NUBIAN and MOHAWK and DAINTY and VOYAGER after being detached from Force W.
(Force W was monitor TERROR and HM Gunboats LADYBIRD and APHIS. Force W carried out bombardments before and after the bombardment by the Fleet battleships).
At 0810 off Bardia WARSPITE, VALIANT and BARHAM screened by ILEX, GREYHOUND, JUNO, JANUS and GRIFFIN commenced the bombardment of Bardia. Ground troops, who surrounded Bardia provided observation of fall of shot.
At 0900 hours the bombardment was checked.
At 1000 hours GLOUCESTER, YORK, CALCUTTA were detached to Alexandria, and WRYNECK and VENDETTA were detached to Sollum.


7th - At 0500 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships VALIANT,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and destroyers JERVIS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, DAINTY, GREYHOUND, GALLANT and GRIFFIN as Force A to carry out Operation MC 4.
(Operation MC 4 was an operation to provide cover for Alexandria to Malta MW 5½, Malta to Alexandria convoys ME 5½ and ME 6 and the EXCESS convoy).
At 1640 hours Force A was sighted and reported by an Italian reconnaissance aircraft.

8th - At 1230 hours Force A arrived at Suda Bay where the destroyers were refuelled.
At 1400 hours Force A departed Suda Bay heading west.

9th - At 0730 hours Force A was in position 36-05N, 19-17E and ILLUSTRIOUS launched Swordfish to search a sector 280¼ to 310¼.
At 1030 hours 200 miles west of Malta Force D, cruiser AJAX and HMAS PERTH from Suda Bay and cruiser HMAS Sydney and destroyer HMAS STUART from Malta joined Force A.
At 1130 hours ILLUSTRIOUS flew off a strike force of 6 Swordfish to search for enemy shipping off the Libyan coast.
At 1140 hours Force A was reported by an enemy aircraft.
At 1240 hours in position 35-30N, 17-30E, SYDNEY and STUART detached from Force A for Alexandria.
At 1330 hours Force D, AJAX and PERTH detached to support convoy ME 6.

10th - At 0430 hours in position 35-56N, 13-20E Force A altered course to RV with the EXCESS convoy.
At 0815 hours Force A, RVed with the EXCESS convoy in position 36-28N, 12-11E, and south east of Pantellaria. The convoy escort was BONAVENTURE, GLOUCESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, ILEX and JAGUAR. Force A took up position astern of the convoy.
At 0834 hours GALLANT was mined and was taken in tow by MOHAWK and BONAVENTURE and GRIFFIN were detached to stand by her.
At 1223 hours two SM 79’s dropped 2 torpedoes which passed astern of VALIANT.
At 1235 hours a large formation of German aircraft, 40 Ju 87’s plus Ju 88’s were sighted approaching from the north.
At 1238 hours the attack commenced, in the 10 minute attack 30 Ju 87’s attacked ILLUSTRIOUS who was hit by 6 bombs which caused serious damage.
The other 10 Ju 87’s divided their attack between WARSPITE and VALIANT. WARSPITE was hit and sustained slight damage to her starboard bower anchor and hawsepipe.

(Cunningham was unaware that Fleigerkorps X had recently moved into bases in Sicily from Norway. Their role was to cover the movement of the first elements of the Afrika Korps to North Africa, by establishing the aerial command over the central Mediterranean which the Italians had failed to do. Their first operation was a small raid on Malta on 9 January 1941. They followed this up with the attack on the EXCESS convoy).

Force A manoeuvred to maintain support for ILLUSTRIOUS whilst efforts were made to bring her under control.
At 1530 hours ILLUSTRIOUS was got under control and course was set for Malta at 17 knots. HASTY and JAGUAR were detached to screen ILLUSTRIOUS.
Between 1600 and 1700 hours further air attacks by 15 Ju 87’s were made on ILLUSTRIOUS and Force A.
At 1700 hours JANUS joined Force A from Malta.
At 2145 hours ILLUSTRIOUS arrived at Malta and Force A proceeded to the eastward.
At 2200 hours Force A now comprising WARSPITE, VALIANT, DAINTY, GREYHOUND, JANUS and NUBIAN was in position 35-40N, 14-10E steering 090¼.
At 2400 hours in position 35-20N, 15-26E, JARVIS joined Force A from Malta.

11th - Force A remained close to the course of the EXCESS convoy.
At 1200 hours Force A was in position 36-06N, 19-27E.
At 1630 hours Force A altered course to close SOUTHAMPTON who was reported stopped in position 34-54N, 18-24E following an attack by 12 Ju 87’s.
At 1645 hours ORION, PERTH, JERVIS and JANUS were detached from Force A to stand by SOUTHAMPTON. JUNO and NUBIAN detached from Force A to join the escort of EXCESS convoy and HERO detached from the convoy to join Force A.

12th - At 0800 hours in position 34-40N, 23-10E all forces RVed. Following which the forces split and Force A comprising WARSPITE, VALIANT, GLOUCESTER, JERVIS, JANUS, GREYHOUND, DIAMOND, VOYAGER, HERO and DEFENDER proceeded to Alexandria.

13th - At 0600 hours Force A arrived back at Alexandria.

31st - At 2200 hours as destroyer GREYHOUND was departing Alexandria she was in collision with WARSPITE causing damage to WARSPITE’s bulge.
(The log book noted that the damage was 'dealt with by local action')


2nd - Deployed with battleship BARHAM,  aircraft carrier EAGLE and destroyers JERVIS, JUNO, JANUS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, DIAMOND, DEFENDER, WRYNECK, HMAS's VENDETTA, VAMPIRE in Eastern Mediterranean.
(This was a diversionary sweep during Operation PICKET, Force H attack on the Santa Chiara d’Ula dam on Lake Omodeo, central Sardinia)


3rd - WARSPITE,  aircraft carrier EAGLE, and five destroyers departed Alexandria for gunnery and flying exercises.

20th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleship BARHAM, and VALIANT,  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, and destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, JUNO, JAGUAR, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, ILEX, HERO, and HAVOCK as Force A. to carry out operation MC 9.
(Operation MC 9 was the passage of Alexandria to Malta convoy MW 6 which was escorted by a force designated Force C)

21st - At 1600 hours Force A was joined at sea by Force B that comprised cruisers YORK, ORION, AJAX, GLOUCESTER, HMAS PERTH and destroyers HASTY, HEREWARD and HMAS STUART, .
YORK, ORION, AJAX, GLOUCESTER and HMAS PERTH then detached to provide close cover for convoy MW 6.

22nd - At 0740 hours YORK, ORION, AJAX, GLOUCESTER and HMAS PERTH rejoined force A.
At 2000 hours the Fleet parted company with convoy MW 6 in order to stay out of range of German bombers and reversed course. MOHAWK and NUBIAN detached from Force A and proceed to a position north of convoy MW 6.

23rd  - Force B detached from Force A to cover the withdrawal of Force C from Malta.
Force A then set course for Alexandria.

24th - At 2230 hours Force A arrived back at Alexandria.

27th - At 1220 hours a RAF Sunderland of 230 Sqd. sighted and reported Sansonetti's 3rd Cruiser Division of 3 cruisers and a destroyer in position 36-54N, 17-10E, steering 120¼. Visibility was poor and the Sunderland could not shadow.
On the basis of this report, (together with ULTRA decrypts which disclosed that the Germans were pressing the Italians to attack the British convoys that were transporting troops and supplies to Greece), Cunningham decided to take the battle fleet to sea to protect the convoy route to Greece. The one convoy at sea at the time was the troop convoy AG 9 that was ordered to return to Alexandria.
At 1900 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships BARHAM, and VALIANT,  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, and destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR and HMAS STUART as Force A, Course was set 300¼ at 20 knots.

28th - At 0739 hours an aircraft from FORMIDABLE reported 4 cruisers and 6 destroyers 30 miles south of Gavdo Island. This was at first thought to be Force B.
At 0827 hours a sighting report was received from Force B confirming that the aircraft sighting report was of an Italian force, that at that time was 18 miles north of Force B. Force A set course to intercept the Italian force.
At 0900 hours VALIANT, MOHAWK and NUBIAN were detached to proceed ahead of Force A. (At the time WARSPITE was having condenser trouble and could only make 22 knots).
At 0905 hours a report from one of FORMIDABLE’s aircraft reported an enemy force north of the cruisers which included battleships.
At 0938 hours the strike force from FORMIDABLE was ordered to attack the enemy force sighted by Force B. At this time BARHAM who was having difficulty in maintaining 22 knots was ordered to follow astern of the screen. HMAS VENDETTA was sighted having been detached from Force B due to engine trouble. Cunningham immediately ordered VENDETTA to Alexandria.
At 1058 hours Force B confirmed the presence of the second enemy force of 2 battleships. (There was only one battleship)
At 1100 hours Cunningham intercepted 3 signals from Force B.
('Make smoke by all means available' - 'Turn together to 180¼' - 'Proceed at your utmost speed'. From these signals Cunningham concluded that Force B had run into the Italian battle fleet. Cunningham then ordered FORMIDABLE to change the air strike target to the Italian battle fleet. This attack was carried out by 6 Albacores of 826 Sqd. The air strike failed to achieve any hits but caused the enemy to turn away and thus saved Force B)

At 1200 hours FORMIDABLE was detached with 2 destroyers to act independently.
At 1235 hours FORMIDABLE launched a strike force of 3 Albacores of 829 Sqd and 2 Fulmars of 803 Sqd.
At 1245 hours Force B comprising cruisers GLOUCESTER, ORION, AJAX, and HMAS PERTH and destroyers HASTY, HEREWARD and ILEX joined Force A.
At 1250 hours following loss of contact with the enemy Cunningham concluded that the Italian battle fleet had reversed course.
At 1325 hours WARSPITE reduced speed to 21 knots to enable FORMIDABLE and BARHAM to catch up.
At 1515 hours the Italian force steering 270¼ was sighted by an aircraft from FORMIDABLE. The report put the enemy in a position 290¼, 65 miles from WARSPITE.
At 1525 hours the strike force of 3 Albacores commenced their torpedo run against the Italian battleship VITTORIO VENETO and the Fulmars strafe the battleship. The strike force reported 3 hits on the battleship and speed reduced to 8 knots. (There was only one hit in her stern near the port prop shaft reducing her speed to 15 knots. The aircraft which achieved the hit was shot down and the crew lost).
On receipt of the strike force report WARSPITE altered course to 300¼.
At 1644 hours Force B cruisers with MOHAWK and NUBIAN attached was ordered to press on and gain contact with the VITTORIO VENETO force. (MOHAWK and NUBIAN were positioned between Force A and Force B to provide visual signaling between the two forces).
At 1745 hours WARSPITE catapulted off one of her Swordfish. Reports from this aircraft between 1831 and 1915 hours established the position of the enemy forces.

At 1835 hours Cunningham ordered a further air strike against the Italian force. This strike force comprised 6 Albacores and 2 Swordfish of 826 and 829 Sqds flying from FORMIDABLE and 2 Swordfish of 815 Sqd from Maleme, Crete.
By 1915 hours it was clear to Cunningham that VITTORIO VENETO was 45 miles from WARSPITE and steering 290¼ at 15 knots.
At 1925 hours Force B reported enemy ships 9 miles to his north engaging aircraft.
At 1935 hours the air striking force reported 'probable hits'. In fact one of the Swordfish of 815 Sqd flown by Lieut. Michael Torrens-Spence had torpedoed the heavy cruiser POLA which now lay stopped. But at this time this was not known to Cunningham.
At 1940 hours Force B sighted the enemy force.
By 2040 hours Cunningham had decided on a night action. The destroyers of the 2ndDF and 14thDF, comprising JERVIS, JANUS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, HASTY, HEREWARD, ILEX and HOTSPUR were ordered to carry out a torpedo attack. GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, STUART and HAVOCK remained with the battle fleet.

At 2111 hours Force B reported a radar contact on an unknown ship stopped 5 miles to port (This was the damaged POLA). On receipt of this report WARSPITE and the battle fleet altered course to 280¼ to pass nearer the position. (Force B continued on course and took no further part in the action).
At 2210 hours VALIANT reported a radar contact 6 miles off her port bow. (This was the POLA). Cunningham decided to investigate this contact and the battle fleet altered course together at 2213 hours on to bearing 240¼ into line ahead.
At 2225 hours 2 heavy cruisers (ZARA and FIUME) and 4 destroyers (ALFIERI, CARDUCCI, GIOBERTI and ORIANI) were sighted from WARSPITE on her starboard bow. The battle fleet which comprised WARSPITE, VALIANT, FORMIDABLE, BARHAM in line ahead, with GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN on their port side and STUART and HAVOCK on their starboard side, turned on to 280¼.
At 2228 hours with ZARA and FIUME now on the port side of the battle fleet, FORMIDABLE hauled out of line to starboard and GREYHOUND illuminated FIUME with her searchlight and the battle fleet opened fire at 2900 yards with 15in broadsides on FIUME and ZARA. WARSPITE also fired two salvos at HAVOCK who was not showing fighting lights, fortunately these missed. In the action WARSPITE fired 40 rounds of 15in AP and 44 rounds of 6in HE.
At 2235 hours fire was checked, leaving FIUME, ZARA, ALFIERI and CARDUCCI seriously damaged, and course was set on to bearing 010¼, with FORMIDABLE on the starboard side.
At 2238 hours the screening destroyers GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, STUART and HAVOCK were released and ordered to finish off the 2 cruisers.
At 2330 hours the battle fleet altered course to 070¼ speed 18knots.

29th - At 0006 hours Cunningham ordered the Fleet to RV at 0700 hours in position 35-54N, 21-38E.
At 0036 hours STUART reported 3 cruisers and 2 destroyers stopped and on fire/damaged.
By 0330 hours the 3 damaged cruisers and 2 destroyers had been sunk by destroyers.
(So ended what was the Battle of Matapan).
By 0700 hours all units of the fleet had joined Cunningham in WARSPITE. Including cruiser BONAVENTURE and destroyers DECOY and HMAS WATERHEN from Alexandria and destroyers JUNO, JAGUAR and DEFENDER from Suda Bay.
At 0800 hours WARSPITE was in position 35-43N, 21-38E and course was altered to 220¼ to sweep the area of the night action.
At 0920 hours STUART, GRIFFIN and HEREWARD were detached to Piraeus.
Between 0950 and 1100 hours wreckage and survivors were seen and large numbers of the survivors were picked up by the destroyers.
At 1100 hours course was set 120¼ for Alexandria.
At 1530 hours the fleet came under air attack for 12 Ju 88’s dive bombers no hits were achieved but FORMIDABLE was narrowly missed by several bombs and one JU 88 was shot down.
At 1930 hours AJAX, PERTH, DEFENDER and HASTY were detached to Suda Bay. BONAVENTURE to convoy GA 8. DECOY to convoy AN 23.

30th - At 0834 hours an S 79 shadower was shot down by a Fulmar from FORMIDABLE.
At 1730 hours the Fleet arrived at Alexandria.


18th - At 0700 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships VALIANT, and BARHAM,  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, cruiser PHOEBE, HM Anti-Aircraft Cruiser CALCUTTA, and destroyers JUNO, JAGUAR, KINGSTON, KIMBERLEY, GRIFFIN, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, and ENCOUNTER and set course for Suda Bay to carry out Operations MD 2 and MD 3.
(Operation MD 2 was the movement of the supply ship BRECONSHIRE from Alexandria to Malta and the Malta to Alexandria convoy ME 7. Operation MD 3 was the bombardment of Tripoli by the Fleet).
En route to Suda Bay destroyer DEFENDER joined the Fleet at sea.

19th - At 1130 hours PHOEBE and CALCUTTA detached for Piraeus.
At 1200 hours the Fleet arrived at Suda Bay, where the destroyers refuelled and WARSPITE off loaded air compressors, timbers and equipment for the repair of the damaged cruiser YORK.
At 1530 hours the Fleet sailed from Suda Bay and set a westerly course.

20th - At 0730 hours south west of the Island of Kithera the Fleet was joined by HM Supply Ship BRECONSHIRE escorted by HMAS PERTH and destroyer HOTSPUR.
At 0800 hours cruisers ORION, AJAX, GLOUCESTER and destroyers HERO and HASTY joined the Fleet at sea.
At 1200 hours PHOEBE and CALCUTTA rejoined the Fleet.
At 1230 hours the Fleet RVed with convoy ME 7 from Malta. PHOEBE and CALCUTTA detached and joined destroyers DIAMOND and NUBIAN escorting convoy ME 7 which then proceeded to Alexandria.
HM Destroyers JARVIS and JANUS detached from convoy ME 7 and joined the Fleet.
The Fleet then re-organised into two forces.



At 2120 hours the bombarding force turned on to course 235¼ and the covering force detached.

21st - At 0445 hours the bombarding force arrived at the position of the marker submarine TRUANT, who was positioned 4 miles off the entrance of Tripoli harbour.
At 0502 hours the bombarding force opened fire on Tripoli harbour at ranges between 14000 and 11000 yards. FORMIDABLE provided 3 spotting (who were unable to spot fall of shot due to dust) and 6 flare dropping Swordfish and RAF Wellingtons from Malta bombed at the same time.
At 0545 hours fire was checked, after firing 478 x 15in and 1500 x 6in shells, of which WARSPITE fired 135 x 15in and 106 x 6in shells, and the force withdrew without there having been any reaction from the enemy. Course was set for Alexandria.
At 0730 hours the FORMIDABLE force rejoined and speed was increased to 21 knots.
At 2000 hours JARVIS, JANUS, JUNO and JAGUAR detached for Malta.

23rd - At 1030 hours the Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.


6th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, battleships VALIANT and BARHAM, cruisers AJAX, ORION, HMAS PERTH, cruiser Minelayer ABDIEL screened by destroyers of the 14thDF, JERVIS, JUNO, JAGUAR, KANDAHAR, KIMBERLEY and KINGSTON and 7thDF, HMAS NIZAM and NAPIER, IMPERIAL, GRIFFIN, HOTSPUR and HAVOCK. Also in company was fast supply Ship BRECONSHIRE.
Because of the aerial mining of the harbour entrance channel the previous night each capital ship was individually sweep out of the harbour by minesweepers. This process took many hours.
The Fleet sailed on Operations MD4, MD6 and MD7, and to cover the passage of the Tiger convoy.
(Operation MD 4 was covering the passage of convoys MW7B, slow, and MW7A, fast, from Alexandria to Malta. MD6 & 7 were bombardments of Benghazi)

7th - Early in the morning south of Crete the Fleet came under attack from 5 enemy bombers, 4 of which were shot down by Fulmars from FORMIDABLE.
During the day the destroyers were refuelled by BRECONSHIRE.
At 1800 hours SW of Crete AJAX, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR and IMPERIAL detached from the Fleet to carry out Operation MD 6, a bombardment of Benghazi.

8th - At 1700 hours AJAX, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR and IMPERIAL rejoined the Fleet.
ABDIEL and BRECONSHIRE escorted by HOTSPUR, HAVOCK, and IMPERIAL detached for Malta.

9th - At 1100 hours east of Malta, following release from Valletta harbour, destroyers KELLY, KELVIN and JACKAL joined the Fleet.
At 1400 hours 40 miles south of Malta the Mediterranean Fleet RVed with the 4 mercantiles of the Tiger convoy that was escorted by battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, cruisers GLOUCESTER, FIJI, NAIAD, DIDO and PHOEBE, anti-aircraft cruisers CALCUTTA, CARLISLE and COVENTRY and destroyers KASHMIR, KIPLING, GREYHOUND, HERO, HEREWARD, ILEX, ISIS and HASTY. Course was then set for Alexandria.

10th - At 1700 hours, 160 miles NNW of Benghazi KELLY, KELVIN, KASHMIR, KIPLING and JACKAL detached to carry out Operation MD7 a further bombardment of Benghazi.
In the evening after the full moon had risen the Fleet came under attack from enemy bombers but due to the intensity of the AA barrage on hits were achieved.

11th - DIDO and CALCUTTA and destroyers JANUS and ISIS were detached from the Fleet to proceed to Alexandria to refuel.

12th - Tiger convoy arrived at Alexandria.

18th - At 2000 hours battleships WARSPITE, wearing the flag of CS7, Rear Admiral Rawlings, and VALIANT, cruiser AJAX, and destroyers KIMBERLEY, JANUS, ISIS, HEREWARD, DECOY, HERO, GRIFFIN and HMAS NAPIER departed Alexandria as Force A 1 to relieve Force A off Crete.

19th - Force A 1 arrived off Crete and Force A and B were released to return to Alexandria to refuel.
HM Destroyers HOTSPUR and IMPERIAL detached from Force A and joined Force A1.

20th - At 0530 hours Force A1 was 100 miles west of Crete covering the light forces working inshore.
At 0800 hours the German airborne attack on Crete began. From their position the ships of Force A 1 could see the Ju 52 transports and gliders carrying the German assault forces.
At 2200 hours IMPERIAL and KIMBERLEY detached to join Force D.

21st - At 0530 hours Force A 1 was 60 miles west of the Anti Kithera Strait steaming west to RV with Force D.
At 0800 west of the Kithera Strait Force D, comprising cruisers DIDO, AJAX, ORION and destroyers ISIS, IMPERIAL, JANUS and KIMBERLEY joined Force A 1.
In the forenoon AJAX was damaged by a near miss.
During the day Force A 1 remained to the south west of Kithera prepared to prevent any attempt by the Italian Fleet to support the attack on Crete.
At 1800 hours Force D comprising DIDO, AJAX, ORION, HASTY, HEREWARD, JANUS and KIMBERLEY detached from Force A 1 to attack enemy troop convoys.
At 2000 hours Force B comprising GLOUCESTER, FIJI, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN detached to patrol off Cape Matapan.
Throughout the day Force A 1 was under heavy air attack.

22nd - At 0530 hours Force A 1 was 45 miles south west of the Kithera channel steaming north west.
At 0700 hours Force D, comprising DIDO, AJAX, ORION, HASTY, HEREWARD, JANUS and KIMBERLEY rejoined Force A 1.
At 0830 hours Force B, comprising GLOUCESTER, FIJI, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN rejoined Force A 1.
Forces A1, B and C patrolled 20 to 30 miles west of the Kithera Channel as Rear Admiral Rawlings stated in his report 'serving a useful purpose by attracting enemy aircraft'.
At 0930 hours WARSPITE’s HA ammunition was down to 66%.
By 0945 hours all the British naval forces were under sustained attack from 650 German aircraft.

At 1225 hours Admiral Rawlings received a message from CS15, Rear Admiral King, stating that the NAIAD had been badly damaged and he was in need of support. On receipt of the report Rawlings decided to go to the assistance of King and course was set westward at 23 knots into the Aegean.
At 1332 hours just as the combined force was entering the Kithera Channel WARSPITE was attacked by three Me 109 fighter bombers each armed with a 250Kg semi-armour piercing bomb. By manoeuvring the first two bombs missed but the third hit the starboard after 4in gun and penetrated the deck to explode in the starboard quarter 6in battery. 38 of ship's company were killed and 31 injured causing extensive damage, fires and the temporary evacuation of one boiler room. Her speed was reduced to 18 knots.
(The Messerschmitt Bf 109 Es were from Luftwaffe unit 111/Jg 77 which was based at Molai, in the Elos Peninsula, about 60 miles from the position where WARSPITE was hit. The bomb that hit WARSPITE was dropped from a plane flown by Wolf Dietrich Huy or Kurt Ubben).
WARSPITE’s Executive Officer Commander Charles Madden took charge of the damage control and fire- fighting parties, clearing up a gun battery which looked and smelled like an abattoir.
After putting out the fires and some temporary repairs WARSPITE stayed with the Fleet.
At 2230 hours CS7 sent a most immediate signal to the CinC Mediterranean Fleet reporting the loss of GLOUCESTER and FIJI and stating that the AA ammunition situation in all vessels was very low, the battleships had run out of pom pom ammunition.

23rd - At 0408 hours the CinC ordered all warships to withdraw to Alexandria.

24th - In the early hours Forces A1, C and E arrived at Alexandria.
On arrival in Alexandria, WARSPITE berthed near the cruiser ORION which had also just returned from Crete. ORION too had been hit by a bomb that penetrated to a crowded messdeck, killing or wounding more than 400 soldiers. Commander Madden organised working parties from WARSPITE to dig out the corpses and conduct funerals.
The CinC Mediterranean Fleet hoisted his flag in her and addressed the crew.
Temporary repairs were commenced to prepare her for an ocean journey.


After temporary repairs remained at Alexandria. Permanent repair arranged in US Navy Dockyard at Puget Sound, Washington state.

3rd - Whilst at Alexandria a conference was held on board to discuss actions to be taken following the arrival of German aircraft in Vichy Syria. The outcome of the discussions was the decision to invade Syria (Operation EXPORTER).

23rd - Sustained further damage after 'near miss' by 500 Kg bomb falling alongside her starboard side during a heavy air raid. Bulge structure fracture caused some flooding.

25th - Took passage to USA with calls at Colombo, Singapore, Manila and Honolulu.


On passage to the USA.


10th - Arrived at Esquimalt.
At Esquimalt a draft of 284 officers and men were sent back to the UK.
In the evening she sailed for Seattle.

11th - Arrived at Puget Sound US Naval Dockyard, Bremerton, Washington.
A further draft of 280 officers and men were then sent back to the UK leaving her with a skeleton crew of 600 who were kept on to assist with the repairs and refit.

September to October

Under refit. WARSPITE’s Walrus aircraft were overhauled at Sand Point US Naval Air Station.


During the refit 5 of her 8 x 15in gun barrels were replaced with barrels that were sent out from the UK. Surface warning radar Type 271 and aircraft warning Type 281 fitted. Fire control radar for main armament (Type 284), HA armament (Type 285) and for Close Range AA guns (Type 282) installed.
(According to her newly appointed radar officer Lt. Paddon, later Rear Admiral Paddon, the British radar sets that were to have been fitted were lost when the ship carrying them was torpedoed in the Atlantic. What she was fitted with were American improvised sets that he described 'as a real bag of tricks'.)


Post refit harbour trials.

Nominated for service with Eastern Fleet at Trincomalee.

28th - Re-commissioned at Puget Sound US Naval Dockyard.


1 9 4 2


7th - Sailed from Puget Sound US Naval Dockyard for Esquimalt on Vancouver Island.

8th to 21st - Carried out working up exercises off the Canadian coast.

23rd - Sailed from Esquimalt for Sydney. She sailed due south for the Pitcairn Islands, keeping well away from the Pacific war zone.


6th - Arrived at Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Island Group where she RVed with the 8406grt RFA BISHOPDALE.

14th - Crossed the International date line, sailing west so missed Friday the 13th.

20th - Arrived at Sydney.

24th - Carried out main battery firing off Sydney.

26th -Sailed from Sydney for Fremantle. En route enemy submarines were reported off Fremantle so she reversed course and made for St Vincent Gulf, Adelaide, where she refuelled and waited until considered safe to proceed.


22nd - Arrived at Trincomalee.

27th - At Trincomalee where Captain Fisher was replaced by Captain F E P Hutton and she was nominated as flag ship of the Eastern Fleet by Admiral Sir James Somerville who had taken command of the Eastern Fleet the previous day.
(Admiral Somerville had arrived from the UK on 24th March and took command of a disparate fleet of 29 vessels. He decided to divide his Fleet into a fast division, Force A, and a slow division, Force B.)

(28th - Admiral Somerville received an intelligent report from the Far Eastern Combined Bureau (FECB), who were reading the Japanese code JN-25B, that a Japanese Naval Force intended to carry out an air attack on Ceylon on or about 1st April. Somerville believed the Japanese would attack Colombo and Trincomalee, simultaneously, and he estimated that their launch point would be about 5- 20N, 80-53E roughly 100 miles southeast of Ceylon, and approximately 180 to 200 miles from both ports. Air searches by Catalina aircraft were therefore organized to a distance of 420 miles from Colombo, between the bearings of 110 degrees and 154 degrees, the direction from which the Japanese were expected to approach)

29th - At 0030 hours WARSPITE sailed from Trincomalee for Colombo.
At 2200 hours WARSPITE arrived at Colombo

30th - (In order to ensure that his fleet was not in Colombo or Trincomalee harbours Admiral Somerville decided to sail his forces and concentrate them to the south of Ceylon from where he hoped to launch a night air strike on the Japanese force).
At 1130 hours Admiral Somerville CinC Eastern Fleet hoisted his flag in WARSPITE.

31st - At 0400 hours WARSPITE,  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, cruisers CORNWALL, ENTERPRISE, DRAGON and CALEDON and destroyers PALADIN, PANTHER, EXPRESS, HOTSPUR and HMAS NESTOR sailed from Trincomalee to RV with the Fleet in position 4-40N, 81-00E.
At 1600 hours Force A from Trincomalee and Colombo and Force B from Addu Atoll RVed in position 4-40N, 81-00E, 80 miles 198¼ from Dondra Head.
The reconstituted Force A now comprised WARSPITE,  aircraft carriers INDOMITABLE and FORMIDABLE (with a total of 36 fighters and 45 torpedo bombers embarked), cruisers CORNWALL, EMERALD and ENTERPRISE and destroyers FOXHOUND, HOTSPUR, PALADIN, PANTHER and HMAS NAPIER and NESTOR.
HM Cruiser DORSETSHIRE joined Force A later from Colombo having cut short a refit.
The reconstituted Force B now comprised battleships RESOLUTION, RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN and REVENGE,  aircraft carrier HERMES (with 12 torpedo bombers embarked), cruisers CALEDON and DRAGON and HMNethS JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, destroyers ARROW, DECOY, FORTUNE, GRIFFIN, SCOUT, HMAS's NORMAN, VAMPIRE and HMNethS ISAAC SWEERS.

(Admiral Somerville thought the Japanese aircraft would probably attack in moonlight, and there was a full moon on 1 April, and arrive back over their carriers at dawn, which was at 0600 hours. To accomplish this scenario the Japanese would have to reach the launch point at about 0200 hours. Admiral Somerville decided to attempt an ambush. If his radar-equipped force found the radar-deficient Japanese during the night, he could launch an aircraft strike with a reasonable prospect of inflicting damage on the Japanese Fleet. When making this assessment Somerville was unaware of the range of the Japanese naval aircraft. Until last light on 31 March, he kept well to the west, and out of range of Japanese search aircraft, and then headed straight for the anticipated Japanese launch point).

The Fleet operated off the south of Ceylon from 3 days and 2 nights without any sighting of the Japanese Force.


1st - At 0230 hours the Fleet arrived at position 5-20N, 80-53E and cruiser DORSETSHIRE joined Force A.
(This position was near where Admiral Somerville expected to find the Japanese Fleet. However the area was devoid of the enemy. Between 0600 and 1000 hours air searches were carried out to the east and south east, without result).
At 1200 hours Force A commenced a sweep to the north east.

2nd - At 0630 hours Force A, having sighted nothing during there sweep, returned south westward and rejoined Force B.
During the day, Forces A and B had manoeuvred in an arc about 50 miles to the westward of those waters in which they steamed in daylight on the two previous days in order to keep clear of any enemy submarines that might have sighted the Fleet. Opportunity was taken to oil 5 of the destroyers, 3 from the RFA APPLELEAF, and 2 from the CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE).
At 2100 hours, with the R-class battleships running short of fresh water the Fleet set course for Addu Atoll. CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE detached for Colombo and HERMES and VAMPIRE detached for Trincomalee.

3rd - At 0520 hours FORTUNE was detached to rescue survivors from S.S. GLEN SHEIL.
At 0940 hours CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE detached for Colombo and HERMES and VAMPIRE  for Trincomalee.
At 1820 hours Force A proceeded ahead at 18 knots. Force A followed at 14 knots.

4th - At 1200 hours Force A arrived at Addu Atoll and commenced refuelling.
At 1500 hours Force B arrived at Addu Atoll.
(At 1630 hours a sighting report timed at 1605 hours, was received from Catalina L of 413 Sqd. RCAF, flown by SL L. J. Birchall, of a large Japanese force steering north-westward in position 0-40N, 83-10E. Whilst making the sighting report the Catalina was attacked by 12 Zeros and shot down)

5th - At 0015 hours Force A sailed from Addu Atoll on a course of 70¼ at 18 knots towards the enemy position. (Sailing was delayed until all units had refuelled)
At 0600 hours Force B sailed from Addu Atoll following Force A.
(Admiral Somerville knew that interception of the Japanese Fleet was not possible unless a strike by 10 Blenheim bombers of 11 Sqd, from Ratmalana airfield Colombo, could inflict damage on the Japanese Fleet. In the event the bombers failed to locate the Japanese).
At 0645 hours Albacores were launched from INDOMITABLE and FORMIDABLE to carry out an A/S search ahead of Force A. At the same time 4 Fulmars were launched from INDOMITABLE the
search covered the area between the arcs 55 degrees to 105 degrees to a depth of 215 miles. It proved negative except for the sighting of one enemy seaplane at 0855 hours, 76 degrees 150 miles from Force A
At 1000 hours reconnaissance aircraft placed the Japanese Fleet in position 05-00N, 78-00E, and approximately 120 miles 020 ¼ from Force A. But this report and subsequent reports failed to inform Somerville of the size and composition of the Japanese Fleet. (5 Aircraft Carriers, with 350 aircraft, 4 Battleships, 3 Cruisers and 9 Destroyers).

At 1344 hours WARSPITE's radar picked up aircraft at a range of 84 miles, 30¼ from Force A These were the Aichi D3A1 (VAL) dive bombers that were attacking and sinking CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE, although this was not known at the time.
At 1522 hours
wreckage was reported by a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A in position 2-08N, 78- 08E.
At 1530 hours a
destroyer was detached to proceed to the reported position of the wreckage but was recalled when at 1655 hours following a report from a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A reporting an enemy force of 5 'unknowns' in position 3-38N, 78-18E at 1600 hours.
At 1700 hours CinC received a report from Colombo that there were indications of enemy aircraft carriers steering 230 degrees at 24 knots from an unknown position at 1400 hours.
From this report the CinC concluded that if the enemy held on this course he would be at 0400 hours in a position to deliver a night air attack on Addu Atoll. This seemed quite a possible course of action. In any case it was necessary for Force A to keep clear to the southward and for Force B, estimated to be 135 miles astern in position 0-12N, 75-15E at 1700 hours, to steer southward so that Forces A and B could close for supporting action at daylight the following morning (6th April). It as also necessary for Force B to steer to southward to keep clear of the enemy carrier force should it be proceeding to attack Addu Atoll).
At 1726 hours Force A altered course to 210 degrees at 18 knots and a signal was made to Force B and to DORSETSHIRE to steer south.
At 1800 hours CinC received a signal from Rear Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, stating that reconnaissance aircraft reported the estimated enemy's position 20¼, 120 miles from Force A at 1710 hours. This position was very close to the previously reported 1600 hours signal.

At 1817 hours CinC received a further signal from Rear Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, adjusting the 1600 hours position of the enemy force, amplifying it to include 2 carriers and 3 unknown vessels and giving the course as northwest. This was the first indication the CinC had of an enemy course to the northwest. Force A immediately altered course to 315 degrees and Force B was instructed to conform. (These movements had the object of keeping Force A within night air striking distance of the enemy force, trusting to an A.S.V. search to locate the enemy, and to being Force B within supporting distance should it be necessary to retire in that direction. A dawn rendezvous was arranged with Force B in approximate position 3N, 75E).
At 1830 hours, sunset, Force A was within 200 miles of the Japanese Fleet and remained undetected by the enemy.
At 1930 hours
a night search with A.S.V. equipped aircraft commenced to cover the section 345¼ to 030¼ to a depth of 180 miles. Nothing was located by this search.
(The 1817 hours report reporting the enemy as steering northwest was incorrect the Japanese Fleet was in fact steering southeast. The CinC alteration of course to the northwest to remain in striking distance meant that Force A lost contact)

6th - At 0400 hours ASV equipped reconnaissance aircraft reported that Force B was 220 degrees 25 miles away from Force A.
At 0615 Force A altered course to 135¼ and sighted Force B ten minutes later.
At 0720 hours approximately 150 miles NNE of Addu Atoll Force A and B combined. Then sailed east.
(At this time Somerville didn't know where the Japanese Fleet was. But Somerville was concerned that the Japanese might be heading for Addu Atoll).
At 1115 hours the Fleet altered course to the south east towards the position of the wreckage reported the previous evening.
At 1300 hours ENTERPRISE, PALADIN and PANTHER were detached to search for survivors in the vicinity of the wreckage position. Air search was provided to assist; further fighter escort was sent to cover the operation. These ships were successful in picking up a total of 1122 survivors from CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE.
At 1800 hours when about 50 miles from the wreckage position the Fleet reversed course and retired to the northwest. All round air searches were carried out to a depth of 200 miles; nothing was seen.

7th - At 0200 hours the Fleet altered course to the west.
At 0428 hours A.S.V. equipped aircraft located two submarines in positions 2-08N, 75-16E and 2-46N, 75-10E; i.e. to the southward of the course of the Fleet.
(Somerville considered that this indicated the possibility of an enemy submarine patrol having been established to cover the eastern approaches to Addu. He therefore decided to pass through the Veimandu Channel to the west of the Maldives and make an unexpected approach to Addu Atoll from the west) At 0700 the course of the fleet was altered to 210 degrees.
At 0700 hours the Fleet was almost back at the position it had been 24 hours previously and course was altered to 210¼.
At 1600 hours in the Veimandu Channel, ENTERPRISE, PALADIN and PANTHER rejoined the Fleet with the survivors from CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE. Medical stores were transferred from WARSPITE to PALADIN for treatment of the wounded. ENTERPRISE and PALADIN were detached to proceed direct to Addu Atoll.
At 2100 hours the Fleet altered course to 160¼.

8th - At 0700 hours aircraft were flown off from the carriers to carry out an all round search to a depth of 175 miles. This proved negative.
At 1100 hours the Fleet arrived back at Addu Atoll. Refuelling commenced, Force B being refuelled first.
At 1517 hours an RAF Catalina made a sighting report of Japanese battleships and aircraft carrier approximately 600 miles east of Dondra Head.
(This report came in whilst Somerville was in conference deciding what action he should pursue. He decided, with the Admiralty's approval, that due to the enemy's size and the preponderance of numbers and quality of his aircraft, the most important duty was to keep his Fleet in being. Force B was therefore to be sent to Kilindini and Force A would go to Bombay)

9th - At 0600 hours Force A sailed from Addu Atoll for Bombay shaping course to pass to the westward of the Maldives.

10th - At 1000 hours PALADIN closed WARSPITE to transfer Staff Officers for passage to Colombo where they were to inform the Deputy Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet of the CinC views and make preliminary arrangements to transfer the CinC administrative staff and secretariat to Kilindini.

13th - At 0705 hours PALADIN rejoined Force A from Colombo being back the Staff Officers who had been transferred to her on the 10th and also Rear Admiral V H Danckwerts, CMG (the CinC Chief of Staff ashore).
At 1040 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE CinC, INDOMITABLE (Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet), FORMIDABLE, EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, NAPIER, NIZAM, NORMAN, PALADIN, PANTHER, FOXHOUND, and DECOY arrived at Bombay. Where cruiser NEWCASTLE (Rear Admiral Commanding, 4th Cruiser Squadron), was awaiting their arrival.

(On the 13th and 14th whilst in Bombay Admiral Somerville had meetings with General Wavell in which they discussed the defence of India and Ceylon. Somerville confirmed that with his present force he was unable to do anything to prevent the invasion of southern India or Ceylon and could not sent naval forces into the Bay of Bengal to protect shipping or the east coast of India. Somerville also informed Wavell of the coming operations against Madagascar in which the whole of the Eastern Fleet would be involved and would not therefore be available in Indian Waters)

15th - In Bombay harbour WARSPITE dragged at half ebb and was brought up by letting go a second anchor. She weighed and anchored again at slack water. It was probable that the dragging was due to her deep draft. WARSPITE was drawing 35 feet forward and there was very little water under her bottom.

(There were considerable delays in fuelling the fleet. Oilers were not allowed to move without pilots, who were obtained with difficulty and no movements took place at night)

18th - The RFA BROOMDALE arrived at Bombay and her arrival enabled the carriers to complete with aviation spirit.

(Admiral Somerville appreciation was that the Japanese were unlikely to resume operations against Ceylon in the near future. This appreciation was drawn from intelligence reports that the Japanese fleet units had withdrawn from the Indian Ocean for operations in the Pacific. In the light of this information he considered it important that Force A should visit Colombo)

19th - WARSPITE embarked General Wavell for passage to Colombo to confer with Admiral Layton.

During the day air training and gunnery exercises were carried out and a night encounter exercise. In case Force A had been located during the day, an alteration of course was made to the southwest after dark.

21st - In the early morning when course was altered to southeast, and at daylight mean line of advance south was resumed.

22nd - Fleet training continued and an approach exercise was carried out with the 4th CS.
At 1000 hours destroyer SCOUT joined Force A from Cochin

23rd - At 0830 hours Force A arrived at Colombo.
WARSPITE landed 400 rifles and bayonets for the use of the military in Ceylon; this was at the personal request of General Wavell.

24th - At 0700 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE, INDOMITABLE, FORMIDABLE, NEWCASTLE, EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, PALADIN, PANTHER, NESTOR, NORMAN, FOXHOUND and DECOY sailed from Colombo and shaped course for the south west. In company with Force A was the AMC HMS ALAUNIA. Embarked in ALAUNIA were the Eastern Fleet secretariat and administrative team and the group of British code breakers who were responsible for supplying signal intelligence on Japanese intentions to the CinC.
At a position approximately 150 miles south west of Colombo Force A waited for replacement aircraft to be flown on to the carriers from Colom

(Unfortunately, during the forenoon the aircraft failed to locate the carriers owing to bad visibility and heavy rain squalls. They returned to the shore aerodromes and another attempt was made early in the afternoon, but failed again. By this time the shore aerodromes had apparently become unserviceable due to the very heavy rainfall. No further flying was possible and all hope of embarking aircraft on this day was abandoned at 1800 hours).

At 1900 hours ALAUNIA and EMERALD were detached from Force A to proceed independently at ALAUNIA's best speed of 13.5 knots to the Seychelles.

25th - In the morning Force A returned to the flying on position and all 25 aircraft were flown on.
At 1300 hours course was
shaped to the southwest for the Veimandu Channel at 18 knots.

26th - At 1300 hours Force A passed through the Veimandu Channel and shaped course for the Seychelles. An air search was sent out to the southward to locate EMERALD and ALAUNIA, estimated to have passed through the One and a Half Degree Channel during the forenoon. They were located shortly before dark, 40 miles to the southward. Force A's course was adjusted to make an RV with EMERALD and ALAUNIA at daylight.
At 1830 hours INDOMITABLE escorted by PALADIN and PANTHER, was detached to proceed in advance to the Seychelles to refuel.

27th - At 0900 hours Force A RVed with EMERALD and ALAUNIA and speed was reduced to 12.5 knots.
During the day aircraft from FORMIDABLE carried training with the ships of Force A.

28th - During the day aircraft from FORMIDABLE carried training with the ships of Force A. At times there was insufficient wind for FORMIDABLE to operate owing to her limited speed, due to damage to the starboard engine.
During the afternoon DECOY was refuelled from WARSPITE.
After dark special exercises were carried out to investigate the best use of parachute flares dropped from aircraft to illuminate the target on a bright moonlight night.

29th - Fleet and air training continued throughout the day and in the afternoon WARSPITE carried out a 15' throw off firing at NEWCASTLE.

30th - At 0630 hours Force A arrived off Dennis Island, Seychelles. As it was not possible to refuel all the ships in one day Force A was split into two groups.

Group 1 comprising WARSPITE, EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, NESTOR, NORMAN, FOXHOUND and DECOY proceeded into Port Victoria to refuel.

Group 2 comprising FORMIDABLE and NEWCASTLE were detached to the westward.

ALAUNIA detached to proceed to Kilindini independently.


1st - At 0530 hours refuelling completed Group 1 sailed from Port Victoria.
At 0700 hours Group 1 and 2 RVed south west of Port Victoria. Group 2 went into Port Victoria to refuel and the 4 destroyers were detached to carry out an A/S patrol off the harbour.
JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, who had rudder problems, was detached to proceed independently to Durban.
WARSPITE, EMERALD and ENTERPRISE set course south west and detoured around.
At 2100 hours off Port Victoria WARSPITE, EMERALD and ENTERPRISE RVed with FORMIDABLE, NEWCASTLE, NESTOR, NORMAN, FOXHOUND and DECOY and course was shaped for position 12- 00S, 59-50E to provide cover for Operation IRONCLAD (The invasion of Diego Suarez)

3rd - At 0900 hours Force A arrived at position 12-00S, 59-50E, 650 miles east of Diego Suarez.
During the forenoon of 3rd May an air search to a depth of 190 miles was carried out by aircraft from FORMIDABLE over the sector East to South from this position to search the area between Saya de Mlaha Bank and north of Nazareth Bank, for any possible Japanese forces attempting the capture or occupation of Diego Suarez.
At 1300 hours all aircraft from FORMIDABLE returned having sighted nothing.
During the day course was shaped to the northwest. The four destroyers were refuelled from WARSPITE and NEWCASTLE (two each).
At 1700 course was altered to northwest to RV with Force B the following forenoon.

4th - At 0830 hours in position 11S, 56E Force B comprising battleship RESOLUTION, cruisers DRAGON and CALEDON and destroyers GRIFFIN, HOTSPUR and FORTUNE RVed with the CinC and Force A.
During the forenoon course was shaped to the southeast. An air search was sent out from FORMIDABLE to a maximum depth to cover the sector North-East-South. In the late afternoon, course was altered to northwest, so as to reach a position 220 miles 070¼ from Diego Suarez by 0700 hours on 5th May (D1 for Operation IRONCLAD).

(At this time Somerville suffered from an entire lack of information concerning the plan on which Operation IRONCLAD was to be conducted)

5th - At 0700 hours the Fleet passed through the pre-arranged position on a southerly course.
An air search from FORMIDABLE covered the sector northeast-southeast-southwest, but aircraft were ordered to keep outside 100 miles of the coast of Madagascar in order to avoid appearing on the R.D.F. screens of Force F (Force F was the invasion force) this search found nothing.
At 1430 hours course was altered to the northwest.

(At 1630 hours the CinC sent a signal to Senior Officer, Force F, repeated to Admiralty, stating his intention was to be in position 090¼ Cape Amber 130 miles, 12S, 50 ½ E at 1100/6/5/42 and, after carrying out an air search to the eastward, proceed with the whole fleet to Kilindini, provided Senior Officer F had no further requirements for the Fleet. However late at night a report was intercepted which indicated that the port would not be open until 7th May. The CinC therefore reconsidered his intention to proceed with whole Fleet to Kilindini a.m. on the 6th May.)

6th - At 0130 hours the Fleet's course was altered so as to reach a position 110 miles 080¼ from Diego Suarez by 0630 hours.
During the forenoon course was shaped to the northwest. An air search was sent out from FORMIDABLE to cover the section northeast-southeast to a depth of 105 miles. This search found nothing.

(At noon the CinC reviewed the situation regarding the future operations of Force A and B. The governing factors being fuel states and RESOLUTION's fresh water state)

At 1230 hours Force B comprising RESOLUTION, EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, DRAGON, CALEDON, GRIFFIN, HOTSPUR and FORTUNE were detached to proceed to Kilindini.
WARSPITE, FORMIDABLE, NEWCASTLE, NESTOR, NORMAN, FOXHOUND and DECOY set course to the south east but remaining in the vicinity to reinforce Force F if required and to continue air searched in the directions of possible approach of Japanese forces.
At 1700 hours course was reversed to the north west.

7th - At 0230 hours course was reversed to the south east.
At 0700 hours Force A was in position 10-50S, 50-20E, course south east. An air search was sent out from FORMIDABLE to cover the sector East to South to a depth of 120 miles, but found nothing.
Force A remained in the vicinity of 11S, 51E until the position ashore was clarified.
At 1300 hours another air search was sent out from FORMIDABLE to cover the sector north east to south to search the lines of approach of a possible Japanese force from the northeast or east.
At 1700 hours the search aircraft returned having seen nothing.
At 1700 hours, with the situation ashore apparently satisfactory, Force A left the area and proceeded to Kilindini.

10th - At 1300 hours Force A arrived at Kilindini. Force A was to remain in harbour for five days at 8 hours' notice for steam in order to carry out essential maintenance work.

18th - All available forces at Kilindini, including WARSPITE, sailed from Kilindini under the command of the Vice Admiral Second in Command Eastern Fleet to carry out a series of exercises. Zanzibar and Manza were visited in the course of these exercises.

20th -  (The Admiralty informed that the CinC that the CinC United States Fleet, suggested the possibility of Japanese attacks on the western bases, and requested some diversion in the Eastern Indian Ocean or the detachment of a carrier to the southwest Pacific area. The Admiralty in the meantime enquired of the CinC whether he would have sufficient screening destroyers to proceed with part of the fleet to Colombo. The CinC replied that a minimum of five destroyers was required)

22nd - The Fleet returned to Kilindini.

(Somerville's intention in basing the Fleet at Kilindini was secure the convoy route from the Cape to the Red Sea; to give time for the AA defences of Colombo and Trincomalee to be built up and to maintain a Fleet in being)

29th - At 1230 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE (CinC Eastern Fleet), ILLUSTRIOUS (Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet), FORMIDABLE, GAMBIA, DUNCAN and ACTIVE sailed from Kilindini and proceeded eastward at 18 knots, so as to pass 100 miles north of the Seychelles.
After dark further trials were carried out to investigate the best method of employing parachute flares for illuminating ships sighted at night outside starshell range on moonlight nights. On completion of these exercises, GAMBIA was stated five miles ahead of the main force for the night.

30th - Air and gunnery practices were carried out in the a.m., including a dawn A.L.T. on the Fleet.
At 1200 hours ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE detached and proceed to the northward for independent air training and exercises against WARSPITE and GAMBIA.
A night A.L.T. had been intended but the air striking force failed to locate WARSPITE or GAMBIA.

31st - At 0100 hours DUNCAN and ACTIVE were detached to proceed to Diego Suarez. (This deployment was a consequence of the torpedoing of RAMILLIES).
During the day gunnery and air exercises were continued. The latter included: fighter escorted air striking by 8 T.S.R.s which carried out a day A.L.T. on WARSPITE and GAMBIA. This was the first large scale air exercise to be carried out by the Eastern Fleet in which the air striking forces had been escorted by fighters.
awn A.L.T.
Night A.L.T. on WARSPITE.


1st - At 0700 hours a Walrus was catapulted from WARSPITE to proceed to Seychelles with important despatches for onward transmission.
At 0900 hours ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE rejoined Force A, and destroyers LAFOREY (D19), LIGHTNING, and LOOKOUT rendezvoused with Force A.
During the afternoon GAMBIA opened out to 60 miles to northward to act as a target for air exercises.
An air search was carried out p.m. ahead of the fleet to a depth of 120 miles over the sector 75 degrees to 130 degrees. Nothing was seen.

3rd - At 0900 hours GAMBIA rejoined Force A and course was altered to the northeast of the Kardiya Channel.

4th - At daylight course was altered to eastward and the force passed through Kardiya Channel at noon.
At 1420 hours an RAF Catalina from Ceylon sighted and reported Force A and was subsequently engaged by fighters from Force A and considered shot down.

5th - During the forenoon the fighter umbrella of Force A was picked up on one of the Ceylon R.D.F. screens when 60 miles away and the approximate position of the Force deduced.
Apart from this Force A remained un-located until proceeding down the swept channel into Colombo harbour, when a squadron of RAF Blenheims, after forming up out of range, passed overhead in close formation. It was not until after the CinC arrived in harbour that he learned that this fly (or as one of his staff put it a 'totter') past was intended to represent a medium level bombing attack.
At 1530 hours Force A arrived at Colombo.

12th - At 0950 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE CinC, ILLUSTRIOUS, FORMIDABLE, GAMBIA, LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, LIGHTNING and HMNethS VAL GALEN sailed from Colombo to search off the Chagos Archipelago for enemy raiders and their supply ships.

(This deployment followed the shelling and subsequent abandoning, of the British cargo liner the SS ELYSIA 6757 grt in position 27-15S, 36-24E by the Japanese auxiliary cruisers AIKOKU MARU and HOKOKU MARU at 0536/5/6/42)

At 1200 hours when Force A was 35 miles south west of Colombo three dummy attacks were made on Force A by RAF aircraft from Colombo, the first was a low level attack by Hurricanes, followed by a combined high level attack by Blenheims and torpedo attack by Beauforts.

13th - At 0001 hours Force A was 90 miles from Colombo and a planed interception by a RAF Catalina failed to occur.
At 0645 hours three RAF
Beauforts carried out independent searches and two were successful in locating and attacking Force A.

15th - At 0900 hours Force A was in a position about 100 miles to the eastward of Chagos, an air search was carried out over the whole of the Chagos Archipelago for possible enemy supply ships. No ships were found. Course was then set for Addu Atoll.

16th - At 0800 hours Force A arrived at Addu Atoll to refuel.
At 1800 hours Force A sailed from Addu Atoll to return to Colombo.

18th - At 1600 hours Force A arrived back at Colombo.

23rd - At 0900 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE CinC, FORMIDABLE, GAMBIA, LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, and HMNethS VAN GALEN sailed from Colombo for Kilindini.
At 1200 hours 40 miles west of Colombo a synchronized attack was carried out by Ceylon air forces on Force A. Two pairs of Beauforts attacked simultaneously, one pair from each side, and at the same time a squadron of Blenheims approached unobserved and carried out a high level bombing attack.
t 1330 hours Force A turned towards Colombo until 1600 hours when ILLUSTRIOUS reported that she would not be ready to sail until after 1700 hours at the earliest.
At 1615 hours Force A was then turned to the southeast and course shaped for the One and a Half Degree Channel.

24th - At 0700 hours ILLUSTRIOUS joined Force A from Colombo.
At 1230 despatches were transferred by LIGHTNING from WARSPITE to GAMBIA for transmission on her return to Colombo.
At 1400 hours GAMBIA was detached and opened out to 50 miles to the northward to act as a target ship for night shadowing air exercises and was instructed to proceed at dawn on 26th back to Colombo.

27th - At 1620 hours ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE under Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, detached to the northward.

28th - At 1100 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE, LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, and VAN GALEN arrived at Port Victoria, the Seychelles and commenced refuelling. Throughout the visit two destroyers and a Walrus aircraft maintained A/S patrols to seaward. A Catalina aircraft also carried out a long range patrol around the islands.
At 1830 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE, LAFOREY, LIGHTNING,  FOXHOUND and VAN GALEN
 sailed from Port Victoria.
At 1900 hours in position 02-50S, 53E, ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE rejoined Force A.


1st - At 1700 hours Force A arrived back at Kilindini.
Nominated for duty with Eastern Fleet units for deception operation STAB.

21st - At 0800 hours Sailed from Kilindini with CinC Eastern Fleet embarked in company with  aircraft carriers FORMIDABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers BIRMINGHAM and MAURITIUS and destroyers INCONSTANT, HMAS NIZAM and NORMAN and HMNethS VAN GALEN on Operation STAB.

(Operation STAB was a simulated attack on the Andaman Islands. It was an operation mounted in response to a request from the CinC USN Admiral King for a British diversion in the Indian Ocean to cover the USN Operation WATCHTOWER, the assault on Guadalcanal, that commenced 7/8/42)

22nd - The Fleet was joined by HMAS NAPIER (Commodore D).

23rd - At 1200 hours the 4 destroyers detached from Force A and entered Port Victoria, the Seychelles to refuel.
The remainder of Force A stood off to the north where the cruisers detached and carried out a shadowing exercise on the 3 main fleet units.

24th - At 0700 hours the 4 destroyers carried out a mock torpedo attack on Force A on rejoining from Port Victoria. Course was then set for the One and a Half Degree Channel.

27th - At 1950 hours a Radar contact was made with a shadowing Catalina and a signal from her was intercepted reporting the position, course, and speed of Force A with reasonable accuracy.

28th - From 0440 hours until full daylight at 0630 hours two aircraft formations approached Force A, but never closer than about 14 miles and returned to base without delivering any attack.
From 0440 until full daylight at 0630 two formations approached Force A, but never closer than about 14 miles and returned to base without delivering any attack.
At 0650 hours a formation of six Blenheims closed Force A and was sighted but did not deliver any attack.
At 0725 hours a squadron of 12 Hurricanes, flying very low, approached Force A and delivered a low level bombing attack on the carriers.
At 0900 hours Force A arrived at Colombo.

30th - At 1700 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE CinC, FORMIDABLE, ILLUSTRIOUS, BIRMINGHAM MAURITIUS, JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, INCONSTANT, NAPIER, NIZAM, NORMAN and VAN GALEN sailed from Colombo to implement Operation STAB. Course was set for Trincomalee.


1st - The dummy convoys for Operation STAB sailed from Trincomalee (Force T), Vizagapatam (Force V) and Madras (Force M).
At 0900 hours Force A was 40 miles north east of Trincomalee, proving cover for Force T.
At 1040 hours when Force A was in position 9N, 21-42E the force was sighted by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft but no action was taken as it was identified as a Catalina.
Subsequent investigations and a warning of the presence of British forces broadcast from Tokyo established this was an enemy aircraft.
At 1500 hours an air search was sent out to cover the sector from 000 degrees to 110¼ to a depth of 150 miles but nothing was seen.
From 2300 hours various units carried out Operation SPARK.

(Operation SPARK was a wireless diversion carried out to simulate the following events: An imaginary collision to occur in Convoy M. One of the damaged ships to make in plain language W/T signal reported she had been in collision and is unable to proceed on operation. One of the escort vessels to order her to keep silence and later to report to Command in Chief that Force M was unable to proceed. Commander in Chief to postpone the operation and order all forces to return to their ports)

2nd - At 0100 hours Force A was in position 11-30N, 82-15E and course was reversed to the south-east.
At 0645 hours course was altered to south.
At 1030 hours despatches were transferred by NORMAN from WARSPITE to ILLUSTRIOUS and thence sent by aircraft to Trincomalee for onward transmission.
At 1100 hours FORMIDABLE flew off two Martlets as Fighter Umbrella.
At 1112 ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE reported R.D.F. contact on an aircraft bearing 055¼, 55 miles. FORMIDABLE directed two Martlets onto this aircraft. When the fighters sighted the enemy flying boat at 10, 000 feet they first thought it was a Catalina, but on approaching closely identified it as a
Kawanishi H6K, 'Mavis' Japanese reconnaissance aircraft and promptly shot it down in approximate position 9-26N, 83-16E. There were no survivors.
At 1215 hours Force A altered course to the westward and speed increased to reach Trincomalee before dark.
At 1915 hours Force A entered Trincomalee and the refuelling of destroyers commenced at once and was completed at 2200 hours.

(At this point Operation Stab was called of because the capital ships were required for operations off Madagascar)

3rd - At 0600 hours Force A sailed from Trincomalee and shaped course for Colombo keeping out of sight of land.
At 1300 hours Force A was joined by HM Minelayer MANXMAN.

4th - At 0900 hours Force A arrived at Colombo.

10th - At 1000 hours Force A, comprising WARSPITE CinC Eastern Fleet, ILLUSTRIOUS (Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet), MAURITIUS, NAPIER (Commodore (D)), INCONSTANT, ACTIVE, and FORTUNE sailed from Colombo. Force A had embarked 250 officers and men of the King's African Rifles for passage to Kilindini, 100 of who were on WARSPITE.
During the day the opportunity was again taken to use Force A as a target for squadron training for Swordfish, Blenheims, and Hurricane bombers from the Ceylon Air Forces.
The Blenheims and Hurricanes carried out a well executed and well synchronized attack. The Beauforts did not take part as they were engaged in torpedo practices off Trincomalee. Subsequently, Force A was shadowed by a Catalina and though the technique of the latter on occasion left something to be desired.

11th - At daylight on 11th August an air search was made of the Kardiya Channel and adjacent atolls, and later that forenoon Force A passed through the channel. Course was then shaped for the Seychelles.

15th - At 0930 hours Force A arrived at Port Victoria, Seychelles to refuel the destroyers and JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK. Throughout this operation AS surface and air patrols were maintained to seaward.
At 1500 hours Force A sailed from Port Victoria and shaped course to Kilindini

17th - Force A RVed with Force B comprising battleships RESOLUTION (Vice Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron), ROYAL SOVEREIGN and VALIANT, cruiser DAUNTLESS, and destroyers GRIFFIN, FOXHOUND, DECOY, BLACKMORE, HMAS's NORMAN and NIZAM.
Exercises were carried out throughout the day.

18th - At 0900 hours the Fleet arrived at Kilindini.

29th - Sailed from Kilindini as part of a force comprising battleships WARSPITE, RESOLUTION (Flag of Vice Admiral Second in Command, Eastern Fleet), VALIANT, cruiser GAMBIA, ENTERPRISE, JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK, and destroyers GRIFFIN, DECOY, INCONSTANT, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, HMAS NAPIER and NEPAL and HMNethS VAN GALEN and TJERK HIDDES. To carry out Operation TOUCHSTONE.

(Operation TOUCHSTONE was an exercise to test out the defences of East Africa against a seaborne Japanese invasion and, also, to provide cover for the operation and a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Madagascar operations [STREAM, LINE and JANE]. Royal Marines and naval landing parties from the naval force were to make landings at Tanga, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar Island)

30th - Operating off the East African coast in approximate position 6S, 41E. Covering Operation TOUCHSTONE.
After nightfall returned to Kilindini.


Passage to operational area off east coast of Madagascar.

8th - Covered landings of 29th Infantry Brigade, Operation STREAM, to complete occupation of Madagascar in company with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers GAMBIA and BIRMINGHAM, screened by destroyers of 7th Flotilla.
(Operation STREAM was t
he landings to capture Majunga)

14th - Sailed from Majunga to cover landings at Tamatave, Operation JANE.
(Operation JANE was the landing and
capture of Tamatave)

19th - Took part in demonstration off Tamatave in place of the planned bombardment.

21st - Released from Operation JANE and took passage to Diego Suarez.


14th - In the afternoon sailed from Diego Suarez, WARSPITE CinC was escorted by NEPAL and FORTUNE course was set for Durban via the Mozambique Channel.

18th - At 1200 hours arrived at Durban.

24th - WARSPITE was docked. Surface warning radar Type 271 replaced by Type 273.

31st - WARSPITE was un-docked.


2nd Sailed from Durban WARSPITE CinC, with cruiser BIRMINGHAM escorted by destroyers HOTSPUR and HMAS NAPIER.
As soon as clear of the harbour, the force proceeded at high speed close inshore up the coast with outer and inner air escort.
When clear of the Durban area, course was altered away from land and set for Kilindini through the Mozambique Channel.

6th - During the forenoon the force passed through the Pemba Channel where the disembarked squadrons from ILLUSTRIOUS at Tanga carried out A.R.T., dive bombing, and fighter attacks on the ships of the force.
At 1500 hours WARSPITE, HOTSPUR and NAPIER arrived at Kilindini. BIRMINGHAM arrived at 1730 hours.

7th - Throughout the remainder of the month WARSPITE was at Kilindini but there was very little opportunity for exercises at sea in the vicinity of Kilindini owing to the lack of destroyer escorts. WARSPITE, VALIANT and REVENGE were able to exercise only once each.


At Kilindini.

21st - Sailed from Kilindini as Force A to carry out local exercises. Force A comprised WARSPITE (Vice Admiral Eastern Fleet), battleship VALIANT,  aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers BIRMINGHAM (CS 4) and GAMBIA, AMC RANPURA and destroyers ROTHERHAM (D 11), NEPAL, HOTSPUR, BLACKMORE and DERWENT.

22nd - RANPURA detached from Force A and returned to Kilindini.

23rd - Force A less GAMBIA arrived back at Kilindini.


1 9 4 3


At Kilindini.

23rd - At Kilindini where Captain Herbert Annesley Packer RN took over command from Captain Douglas Blake Fisher RN.

(This was an interesting appointment for as an acting Sub-Lieutenant Herbert Packer joined the new battleship WARSPITE on February 22nd 1915 as Sub-Lieutenant of her Gunroom. Then in 1926 he became her gunnery officer)


At Kilindini.

3rd - Sailed from Kilindini as part of Force A. Force A comprised battleships WARSPITE, REVENGE and RESOLUTION, cruiser MAURITIUS, and destroyers ROTHERHAM, QUILLIAM, NEPAL, , FOXHOUND and HMAS NIZAM for operations in the Indian Ocean.

(Part of the operation was to provide distant cover for Operation PAMPHLET. This was the code name for the troop convoy that carried the 9th AIF Division from the Middle East back to Sydney, Australia. The convoy sailed from Suez on 4/2/43 and arrived at Addu Atoll on 9/2/42 and sailed from Addu Atoll on 10/2/42)

11th - At 0240 hours Force A comprising WARSPITE, RESOLUTION, REVENGE, MAURITIUS, NEPAL, NORMAN, ROTHERHAM, and NIZAM arrived at Addu Atoll.
At 0250 hours QUILLIAM and FOXHOUND arrived at Addu Atoll having provided local escort for PAMPHLET.

13th - Force A less MAURITIUS sailed from Addu Atoll for Port Victoria, Seychelles.

18th - Force A arrived at Port Victoria to refuel. After refuelling Force A sailed for Kilindini.



At Kilindini.

11th - Sailed from Kilindini for Durban escorted by destroyers FOXHOUND, QUILLIAM and NEPAL.

16th - Arrived at Durban escorted by FOXHOUND, QUILLIAM and NEPAL.

18th - At Durban where she was taken in hand for a short refit.


Under refit.

13th - Refit completed.

16th - Sailed from Durban to return to the UK escorted by destroyers QUILLIAM (D 4), QUEENBOROUGH, QUALITY, and QUAIL.


On passage to UK.

10th - Arrived in the Clyde escorted by destroyers QUILLIAM (D 4), QUEENBOROUGH, QUALITY, and QUAIL.

 Berthed at Princes Dock, Govan, Glasgow, to commence a refit.

31st - Refit completed.


1st - At 1500 hours WARSPITE sailed from Greenock escorted by destroyers SCORPION and ORWELL.
Off the Firth of Clyde destroyer QUAIL joined the screen.

2nd - At 1800 hours WARSPITE, SCORPION, QUAIL, and ORWELL arrived at Scapa.

3rd - WARSPITE commenced working up exercises and bombardment practices off Cape Wrath in preparation for deployment in Operation HUSKY. (Operation HUSKY was the invasion of Sicily)

17th - At 1400 hours Force H comprising battleships NELSON (CinC Force H), RODNEY, VALIANT, and WARSPITE,  aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR (D 8), INTREPID, FURY, INGLEFIELD, ECHO, QUILLIAM (D 4), QUEENBOROUGH, QUAIL, OFFA, PATHFINDER, PANTHER, and ORP PIORUN sailed from Scapa for Gibraltar.

23rd - Force H arrived at Gibraltar.
Shortly after anchoring WARSPITE hoisted the flag of Rear Admiral A. W. La T Bissett 2inC Force H.

24th to 27th - Carried out 4 days of AA exercises with other units of Force H.


30th - Arrived early at Algiers.
Sailed later for Alexandria less AURORA and PENELOPE.


On passage to Alexandria

5th - At 0630 hours the force anchored off Ras-el-Tin Lighthouse, Alexandria Bay.

7th - At 1045 hours WARSPITE (2IC Force H) division of Force H, VALIANT, FORMIDABLE, escorted by FAULKNOR (D 8), INTREPID, FURY, INGLEFIELD, ECHO, ECLIPSE, INGLEFIELD, ILEX, RAIDER and HHellMS VASILISSA OLGA sailed from Alexandria Bay for the Gulf of Sirte.

9th - At 0600 hours in the Gulf of Sirte, 240 miles south east of Malta, the WARSPITE division of Force H RVed with battleships NELSON (CinC Force H) and RODNEY,  aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE (FS Rear Admiral Lumley Lyster), cruisers CLEOPATRA and EURYALUS and destroyers OFFA, PANTHER, QUAIL, QUEENBOROUGH, QUILLIAM (D 4), TROUBRIDGE, TUMULT, TYRIAN and ORP PIORUN.
Force H then provided distant cover for the combined convoys, MWF 36 (Ex Port Said 5/7/43) and MWS 36 (Ex Alexandria 3/7/43), SBS 1, SBM 1, SBF 1(Ex Sfax 8/7/43) and MWS 36X (Ex Tripoli 8/7/43) consisting of MT freighters, tankers, landing ships and landing craft for the invasion of Sicily, Operation HUSKY.
At 0700 hours AURORA and PENELOPE joined Force H.
At 0730 hours AURORA, PENELOPE, INGLEFIELD and OFFA detached to carry out Operation ARSENAL. (Operation ARSENAL was a naval bombardment of Catania)

(Following the invasion on the night of 9/10 July Force H was deployed in Ionian Sea as a covering Force for the landing operations to prevent possible interference from the Italian Fleet)

10th - AURORA, PENELOPE, INGLEFIELD and OFFA rejoined Force H.
At daylight Force H was approximately 40 miles off Cape Passero.
During the day Force H continued to patrol off Cape Passero.

12th - WARSPITE and VALIANT with escorting destroyers detached from Force H and proceeded to Malta to for refuelling. WARSPITE was able to give leave to her Maltese ratings.

(This was the first visit by battleships to Malta since WARSPITE in December 1940)

Later in the day the WARSPITE division sailed from Malta and rejoined Force H at sea.

13th - 25 miles SE of Cape Spartivento ECHO and ILEX, who were part of Force H screen, sank the Italian submarine NEREIDE.

14th - Whilst patrolling the Ionian Sea Force H was attacked by Italian torpedo bombers, without result, although CLEOPATRA and EURYALUS were near missed.

16th - At 0015 hours the INDOMITABLE was torpedoed, port side amidships, by a lone Ju 88.

17th - Early in the day due to overcrowding in Grand Harbour WARSPITE and VALIANT moved round to Marsaxlokk Bay. En route VALIANT fouled the anti-submarine defences and was held firm so WARSPITE proceeded alone.
At 1300 hours WARSPITE sailed from Marsaxlokk and off Grand Harbour picked up her escort of destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, ECLIPSE, INGLEFIELD, PETARD, RAIDER and HHellMS VASILISSA OLGA and course was set for Catania to carry out a bombardment in support of the 8th Army attack.
She was instructed to commence her bombardment at 1830 hours. In order to achieve the start time WARSPITE worked up to 23½ knots. Then her steering suddenly jammed and she turned a sharp circle, this was a repeat of a continuing problem that had first occurred during the Battle of Jutland.
At 1842 hours WARSPITE arrived in position 141¼ Sciara Biscari light15000 yards from which position she opened fire on military targets. After a ranging shot A and B turrets commenced firing; each fired 8 x 2 gun salvoes she changed position closing to 11200 yards to allow X and Y turrets to fire 6 x 2 gun salvoes. During the bombardment she was attacked by 3 FW 190s, without damage.
At 1902 hours the bombardment was checked, she had fired a total of 57 x 15in shells.
At the same time her escorting destroyers fired at the coastal batteries.
Course was set south to return to Malta. During the night several air attacks were experienced without damage.

18th - At 0700 hours WARSPITE and back at Marsaxlokk Bay.

(On her return to Malta WARSPITE received the following signal from Admiral Cunningham CinC ANXF, 'Operation well carried out. There is no question when the old lady lifts her skirts she can run.')


At Malta

3rd - In Valetta Harbour when the harbour came under air attack.


1st - Battleships WARSPITE (2iC Force H) and VALIANT, cruisers MAURITIUS and ORION escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR (D 8), FURY, INGLEFIELD, INTREPID, ECLIPSE and RAIDER sailed from Grand Harbour on Operation SLEDGE part of Operation BAYTOWN.

(Operation BAYTOWN was the assault across the Straits of Messina, by X111 Corps of the 8th Army, on the Italian mainland province of Calabria, due to commence at daylight on 3/9/43. Operation SLEDGE was the softening up bombardment prior to the assault, carried out by the 2nd division of Force H)

2nd - At 1000 hours WARSPITE and VALIANT opened fire on 155mm coastal batteries south of Reggio. The bombardment was also carried out by monitors EREBUS, ROBERTS and ABERCROMBIE, cruisers MAURITIUS and ORION and river gunboats APHIS and SCARAB the escorting destroyers also joined in.
Following the bombardment the force remained in the area to provide support for the invasion.

3rd - In the Early hours destroyer TARTAR with CinC ANCXF Admiral Cunningham embarked, joined the force. This was to enable the CinC to observe the landings.
At daylight the British X111 corps landed at
Reggio di Calabria and Villa San under cover of gunfire from the off shore naval force, artillery fire from Sicily and aerial support.

(The landings were unopposed as the German 29th Panzer Grenadier Division had withdrawn from the coast and the Italian forces surrendered without a fight)

4th - Arrived back at Malta.

7th - At 1700 hours battleships WARSPITE (2IC Force H) and VALIANT escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR (D 8), FURY, INGLEFIELD, INTREPID and RAIDER sailed from Marsaxlokk Bay on Operation AVALANCHE.
At 1820 hours off Grand Harbour the force was joined by  aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, and destroyers ECHO, ILEX and HHellMS VASILISSA OLGA.
The combined force formed the 2nd division of Force H and course was set westward until midnight when course was altered northwards towards the west of Sicily.

(Operation AVALANCHE was the landing of the British X Corps and US V1 Corps of the 5th Army at Salerno Bay at 0300/9/9/43. Salerno Bay which has a beach of 20 miles and was within aerial striking range of Sicily. It was the best possible landing site in the area; as such, the Germans fully anticipated the landing and were fully prepared for it. In order to achieve surprise no preliminary naval bombardment took place. As a result of all these factors, the landings at Salerno was fiercely contested)

8th - At 0545 hours the force was unsuccessfully attacked by torpedo bombers.
At 0700 hours the two divisions of Force H combined.
At 1000 hours the combined Force H arrived off Marettimo Island where they cruised until 1730 hours.
At 1730 hours Force H set course for the Salerno area. The course set was designed to keep Force H end on to the moon, thereby presenting the most difficult target for air attack.
At 1830 hours Radio Algiers announced that Italy had concluded an armistice with the Allies.
At 1845 hours Marshal Badoglio announced on radio
'The Italian Government, recognizing the impossibility of continuing the uneven struggle against the overwhelming enemy power, with the intent of saving further and more serious calamities to the Nation, has asked Gen. Eisenhower, CinC of the Allies forces, for an armistice. The request has been accepted. Consequently every action of hostility against the allied armed forces must stop from the Italian armed forces in every place. They (the Italian forces), however, will react to possible attacks of any other origin'. (The armistice had actually been signed in Sicily on 3/9/43.
From 2100 hours the capital ships of Force H were under air attack mainly from single-engine fighter bombers.

9th - Air attacks continued. In one attack WARSPITE was singled out and a torpedo bomber came within 800 yards before dropping its torpedo. WARSPITE good work on the helm enabled her to comb the track and avoid the torpedo.
At 0040 hours the air attacks ceased.
At 0300 hours the assault troops started to land.
At 0500 hours the air attacks re-commenced.
At 1330 hours WARSPITE, VALIANT, FAULKNOR, FURY, ECHO, INTREPID, RAIDER, Greek VASILISSA OLGA and French Le TERRIBLE detached from Force H and set course south west for a position 360¼ Cape de Garde (now Ras El Hamra) Algeria, 20 miles, to carry out Operation GIBBON.

(Operation GIBBON was the reception of the surrendered Italian Fleet by units of the Allied Navy. In accordance with clause 4 of the surrender document. At 0300/9/9/43 the Italian Fleet of 3 Battleships, 3 Cruisers and 8 Destroyers sailed from La Spezia with instructions to sail south, westward of Corsica and Sardinia, to a position north of Bone. En route the Italian Fleet was attacked by German aircraft and in the attack the Battleship ROMA was hit by two FX-1400 missiles and at 1612/9/9/43 rolled over and sank taking the Italian Fleet CinC, Admiral Bergamini, with her)

At 2130 hours Le TERRIBLE detached and returned to Force H.

10th - At 0800 hours north of Bone ML 443 went alongside WARSPITE and transferred Captain T M Brownrigg RN and his staff. Captain Brownrigg was the representative of the CinC, ANCXF, he had also been the navigating officer of WARSPITE between 7/39 and 2/41.
At 0832 hours the Italian Fleet hove into sight from the north.
At 0900 hours Captain Brownrigg and his staff transferred to the Italian flagship the Cruiser EUGENIO di SAVOIA wearing the flag of Admiral Oliva.
At 0916 hours the Italian Fleet was ordered to follow astern of the Allied ships, with WARSPITE leading, and course was set east for Malta.
At this point the ANCXF Admiral Cunningham, who had sailed out from Bizerta in HM destroyer OFFA, signaled to WARSPITE his pleasure to see her in her appointed station at the head of the line.
OFFA then took station ahead of the line of the 8 Italian Destroyers.

11th - North of Malta the force was met by destroyer HAMBLETON who had embarked General Dwight D Eisenhower the Allied CinC.
The Italian Fleet and the escorting force of WARSPITE, VALIANT, FAULKNOR, FURY, ECHO, INTREPID, RAIDER, VASILISSA OLGA and OFFA then entered Grand Harbour and Marsaxlokk Bay.
Admiral Cunningham then signalled The Admiralty '
Be pleased to inform Their Lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the fortress of Malta."

12th - At Malta Rear Admiral A. W. La T Bissett struck his flag.
WARSPITE then sailed to RV with the Italian Battleship GIULIO CESARE in the Gulf of Taranto and escort her into harbour at Malta.

14th - At 1700 hours Force H comprising battleships NELSON (CinC Force H), RODNEY, WARSPITE, and VALIANT,  aircraft carriers FORMIDABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS escorted by destroyers JERVIS (D 14), ILEX, PATHFINDER, PENN and PETARD sailed from Malta for Gibraltar. WARSPITE was en route to the UK to prepare for the Normandy landings.
At 2000 hours the CinC Force H received a signal recalling Force H and instructing him to detach WARSPITE and VALIANT with the escorting destroyers to proceed with all dispatch to Salerno Bay.

(The reason for this deployment was because during the 12th-14th September the Germans unleashed a concerted counterattack by six divisions against the Salerno beachhead with the objective of driving the allies into the sea before it could link with the Eighth Army. Heavy casualties were inflicted and on 13th they drove a salient between the two American divisions, the 34th and 45th, where the Sele and Calore Rivers merged. The Allied troops were too thinly spread to be able to resist the concentrated attacks. The heavy batteries of the battleships were urgently needed to redress the situation)

15th - At 1100 hours WARSPITE, VALIANT and destroyers JERVIS (D 14), ILEX, PATHFINDER, PENN and PETARD arrived off the beachhead in the middle of an air attack by FW 190’s. WARSPITE’s gunnery officers crossed to the HQ ship USS BISCAYNE to obtain target information.
At 1320 hours the gunnery officers returned and her captain of Marines embarked on PETARD who landed him on the beachhead to act as FOO for her bombardment.
WARSPITE then moved to a position approximately 1000 yards off the mouth of the Sele River in the US assault area.
At 1752 hours WARSPITE opened fire with her main armament on Altavilla, in support of US troops, 9 out of her 12 salvos were right on the target. WARSPITE’s target was also being bombarded by cruisers AURORA, MAURITIUS and PENELOPE and USS PHILADELPHIA.
As darkness closed in WARSPITE and VALIANT withdrew to seaward.
During the night the assembled shipping came under sustained air attack. The destroyer escorts were positioned around the two battleships approximately 4000 yards out. During one air attack a 6in shell from WARSPITE hit PETARD and exploded amongst the ammunition supply party for A and B guns, killing 2 and wounding 6.

16th - At 0830 hours WARSPITE returned to her previous days bombardment position, with destroyers CLEVELAND, COTTESMORE and GARTH as escort and resumed her bombardment of enemy positions. One of her targets was a German ammunition dump behind Altavilla she fired 48 rounds of 15in at the target, 16 of which fell right on the target and 8 were within 100 yards.
Mid morning the bombarding ships came under heavy air attack. Due to the nature of the mission and the concentration of shipping the ability to take avoiding action was limited.
During one air attack a 4in shell from WARSPITE hit destroyer OFFA, exploding on B gun deck, killing one and wounding several others.
At 1400 hours she was moving away from her bombardment position having completed her mission. When she was attacked, out of the Sun, by 12 FW 190 fighter bombers, these were fought off without result. But in repelling this attack all attention had been concentrated on these 12 aircraft.

At 1427 hours, moving at 10 knots through the congested shipping, with her attention diverted and only a few minutes after the fighter-bombers had disappeared; the ship’s look-outs sighted a group of high level high level D0 217 K-2 bombers who released 3 FX-1400 (Fritz X) glider bombs. Of the three glider bombs launched, two found their target. The first bomb came straight for the port side of the ship and penetrated six decks to hit her double bottom before exploding and flooding No.4 boiler-room and eventually causing the flooding of 4 of the other 5 boiler rooms. The second was a near-miss amidships abreast the bulge on the starboard side, where it burst under water causing a long gash in her starboard bulge. The third bomb was a near-miss on the starboard side aft. From the time of sighting to the time of the bombs' arrival was some seven to ten seconds. 9 men were killed and 14 injured. All steam was lost and the ship could not steer. All communications were temporarily out of action and some 5,000 tons of flood-water had increased her draught by about five feet.

(The attacking aircraft were from the Luftwaffe unit 111/KG100 based at Marseilles. They released their air to ship wireless glider bombs from 20000 feet. The FX-1400 was a radio controlled gliding armour piercing bomb, guided by a joystick from the mother plane. It was 3.26 meters long, weighed 1570 Kg and had 320 Kg of explosive and emitted a smoke trail for identification by the bomb aimer; It reached a terminal velocity of 600 miles/hour and could pierce 130mm of armour. The bombs aimed at WARSPITE were guided by Corporal Huhn, Sergeant Meyer and Warrant Officer Mrowitz. A proficient bomb aimer could achieve 50% hits within a 15 meter radius)

WARSPITE was left drifting without power, Radar out of action, unable to operate her armament or steer. She had 4 destroyers in company. Captain Parker issued orders to prepare for a tow, changed over to mechanical steering and called upon HM AA Cruiser DELHI to provide AA protection.
By 1615 hours the Fleet Tug USS HOPI had a line on her. Two more Fleet Tugs, the USS MORENO and USS NARRAGANSETT, arrived soon afterwards and course was set for the Straits of Messina at 4 knots.
At 1930 hours cruiser SCYLLA joined the escort.

At 2300 hours cruiser EURYALUS arrived on the scene. At which time WARSPITE was drifting sideways, despite the best efforts of the tugs. With the agreement of Captain Parker, Admiral Vian ordered EURYALUS abreast of the battleship’s bulky bows to pick up her towing hawser. As soon as this was secured, EURYALUS went ahead dead slow. Unfortunately at this point the tugs had cast off their own tows and WARSPITE had become a water-logged dead-weight and the towing hawser parted.

17th - At 0130 hours the tugs had secured further towing hawsers and had her under way again. A speed of 4 knots was maintained through the night. But by next morning WARSPITE’s list had increased to 4.5 degrees. However she was only 45 miles from the Salerno beachhead and making very slow progress. Her diesel dynamos were providing electric power which enabled her pumps to prevent the flood-water spreading.
Two more tugs, HM Tugs NIMBLE and ORIANA joined and, although the towing hawsers parted many times, the 5 tugs gradually worked the speed up to 6 knots.

18th - In the Straits of Messina HM Ocean Salvage Vessel SALVEDA joined the group. But the southward current was so strong that all towing wires except one parted, and the water-logged ship went through the Straits broadside on. Eventually she emerged at the southern exit of Straits, where the tow was resumed.

19th - At 0800 hours WARSPITE arrived back at Malta. Temporary repairs were commenced.
Following her arrival at Malta her CO Captain Parker left the ship and Commander Hon. D Edwardes, the executive officer, took command temporarily.


Under temporary repair at HM Dockyard, Malta.


1st - WARSPITE sailed from Malta for Gibraltar, her displacement had risen to 39500 tons and was drawing nearly 40 Ft. under tow by HM Ocean Salvage Tugs JAUNTY, NIMBLE, ORIANA and RESTIVE, escorted by destroyers ATHERSTONE, BRECON, BLANKNEY and HAYDON.

12th - Docked at Gibraltar for repair to allow ocean passage to UK.


Under repair at HM Dockyard Gibraltar.

10th - Whilst at Gibraltar she was inspected by Admiral Cunningham.

28th - Un-docked.


1 9 4 4


Under repair at Gibraltar.


At Gibraltar.


At Gibraltar.

9th - Sailed from Gibraltar and joined convoy MKF 29, this was a convoy of 22 merchant ships and troop transports escorted by cruiser GLASGOW, HM Escort Carriers ACTIVITY and NAIRANA, destroyer WINCHELSEA and HM Sloops CRANE, CYGNET, REDPOLE and WOODCOCK

15th - In position 55-13N, 9-05W, WARSPITE detached from convoy MKF 29 and was joined by destroyers ONSLOW (D 17) and HNorMS STORD. Course was then set for Rosyth.

16th - Off Scapa destroyer SAVAGE joined and ONSLOW detached for Scapa.

17th - WARSPITE, SAVAGE and STORD arrived at Rosyth. Where work was undertaken to repair her defective X and Y turrets.
Her damage was never fully repaired and X turret remained permanently out of action.
Damage to No 4 Boiler Room was not undertaken and caisson fitted over the hole in ship’s bottom. When she left Rosyth her operational armament was six 15in guns, eight 4in AA guns and forty pom poms.

18th - At Rosyth Captain Marcel H A Kelsey RN assumed command.


Under repair at Rosyth.


Allocated for support of allied landings in Normandy with Bombarding Force. (HM Battleship RAMILLIES, monitor ROBERTS, cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER, DANAE and Polish ORP DRAGON in Eastern Task Force (Operation NEPTUNE).
Target in Pre-arranged Fire Plan – Gun Batteries at Villerville.
Carried out bombardment exercises with Force ‘D’ in NW Approaches.
(For more details of naval activities prior to and during landings see LANDINGS IN NORMANDY JUNE 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards).


2nd - At 1900 hours sailed from Greenock for the Normandy beachhead, on Operation NEPTUNE, in company with battleship RAMILLIES, monitor ROBERTS, cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER, DANAE and ORP DRAGON escorted by destroyers SAUMAREZ (D 23), SWIFT, SUCCESS and HNorMS STORD and SVENNER. This group was designated Bombarding Force D and was to have sailed directly to their bombarding stations off the beachhead, however due the bad weather the operation was postponed for 24 hours so they made for Portsmouth.

4th - Arrived off Portsmouth.

5th - Passage through swept channel to Assault area with ships of Force S of the Eastern Task Force in Convoy S6 escorted by destroyers SAUMAREZ, SWIFT, SUCCESS, destroyers HNorMS SVENNER and STORD and  frigates ROWLEY and HOLMES.

6th - At 0430 hours bombarding Force D was in position on the eastern side Force S, preparing to engage enemy shore batteries east of Ouistreham.
At 0500 hours NE of Sword Beach, approximately 11 miles west of Le Havre (at this time Le Have was cut off from the invasion fleet by a smoke screen that had been laid by RAF Boston’s of 88 Squadron) WARSPITE opened fire on the Villerville Battery at a range of 26000 yards.

(The German army battery at Villerville, in the village of Les Bruyeres, contained six 155-mm guns. Its range-finding post was located in a former farmhouse that had been turned into a blockhouse)

At 0515 hours almost simultaneously with opening fire the bombarding force was attacked by the German 5th Torpedo Boat flotilla of T28, FALKE, JAGUAR and MÖWE who fired their 18 torpedoes and made off. Torpedoes passed between RAMILLIES and WARSPITE, narrowly missing both, but one of them went on to hit and sink the Norwegian destroyer HNorMS SVENNER at 0535 hours. Another torpedo narrowly missed LSH(L) LARGS that was 200 yards ahead of SVENNER.

(The 5th TB flotilla had sailed from Le Havre at 0440 hours with orders to attack landing craft that had been sighted off Port en Bessin. But on breaking through the smoke screen they were confronted by the bombardment line of battleships, monitor and cruisers. On seeing the overwhelming force they fired their torpedoes and returned to Le Havre at speed)

Fire from the batteries east of the River Orne was directed mainly against the bombarding ships; with WARSPITE being the main target. After being straddled by shells from the Benerville battery, which caused no damage, she moved position.
During the remainder of day she carried out bombardments on shore batteries to the east of the River Orne and at targets of opportunity.
At 2305 hours having moved away from the beachhead she anchored out in the channel, about 4 miles off shore.

7th - During the day she carried out bombardments on shore batteries to the east of the River Orne and at grid references provided by FOO’s at enemy troops, strong points, vehicles and guns. One enemy strong-point was destroyed with 20 rounds of 15in, fired blind.
Between 1650 and 1715 hours one of her bombardments was in support of 45 RM Commando in their attempt to take Franceville.
At the end of the second day she had carried out 20 shoots and fired 334 x 15in shells, 181 rounds of HE and 133 rounds of AP.
At 1900 hours she sailed from the beachhead for Portsmouth to replenish with ammunition.

8th - At 0330 hours arrived off Portsmouth and moved into harbour in the afternoon and commenced re-ammunitioning.

9th - At 0800 hours sailed from Portsmouth with orders to assist the Western Task Force off the Cotentin Peninsula, where she was to relieve the US Battleship NEVADA who needed to re-ammunition at Plymouth.
At 1600 hours she arrived off Utah Beach
Between 1615 and 1815 hours she fired 96 x 15in shells, without the aid of aircraft spotters or FOO’s , at a German artillery position located on a narrow neck of foreshore. Her shooting was highly praised in a signal from American commanders.

10th - On standby most of the day. In the afternoon carried out a shoot on an artillery battery.
In the evening NEVADA returned and WARSPITE moved off east to anchor off Gold Beach.

11th - On standby most of the day.
In the afternoon she fired 50 x 15in shells rapid fire into a wood near Cristot in front of the British
69 Brigade of the 50th Division who were held up by elements of the Panzer Lehr and 12 SS Panzer Divisions. The CinC 50th Division, Major General Douglas Alexander Henry Graham, signalled ' I want those concerned informed – good shooting'
In the evening WARSPITE left the beachhead for Portsmouth to re-ammunition.

12th - At 0430 hours arrived at Portsmouth to re-ammunition. However it was decided that her guns were so worn that replacement was necessary and since the nearest replacements were at Rosyth she was ordered to Rosyth.
At 1800 hours she sailed east from Portsmouth for Rosyth.

13th - At 0400 hours she passed through the Straits of Dover, the first capital ship to do so since the German battlecruisers in February 1942. The German coastal batteries on the French coast opened fire on her, but jamming of the German radar was highly effective and WARSPITE successfully ran the gauntlet of the German fire.

At 0815 hours she was in the swept channel 28 miles east of Harwich when an influence mine detonated under her stern on the port quarter. Her steering jammed she veered off to starboard, took a sharp list to port and had all four shafts put out of action. After a while the list was rectified by counter flooding and with both port shafts seized she was got a starboard shaft working, followed by the other starboard shaft, but she was taking in water aft and her draft was increasing.
At 0920 hours she managed to get underway at just 7 knots, initially heading for the Tyne, but the River Tyne authorities feared she might sink in the Tyne, so she continued on to Rosyth.

14th - At 2100 hours she arrived at Rosyth drawing 42 feet aft, as she sailed up the Firth of Forth she passed the battleships ANSON and HOWE, they and all the other warships off Rosyth cleared the lower decks and cheered WARSPITE in.


Under repair at Rosyth.
Desperate to get her back in service the dockyard didn’t use the usual repair method for bent propeller shafts. Instead the shafts were heated using a large number of oxy-acetylene lamps and straightened with hydraulic jacks.
The port outer shaft was beyond repair but in view of future bombardment requirements in support of military operations WARSPITE was returned to service with limited speed capability.


Under repair at Rosyth.

10th - Completed repairs and replacement of worn gun barrels. Captain Kelsey revealed her state on sailing - 'we had one good shaft, one fairly good shaft, one wobbly shaft and one, the port outer, still seized solid'. So WARSPITE was returned to service with just three turrets and now three shafts operational and a top speed of 15 knots.

11th - Sailed from Rosyth for Scapa escorted by destroyers ZAMBESI and ZEST.

12th - Arrived at Scapa and carried out practice shoot to zero in her new barrels.
Sailed for the Clyde.

13th - Arrived in the Clyde.

22nd - Sailed from the Clyde for Plymouth.

25th - Arrived off Ushant escorted by 5 Destroyers to carry out a bombardment of strong points off the fortress of Brest.

(Brest had been invested by the US Army V111 Corps since 17/8/44. The fortress contained 40000 German troops and was proving a formidable 'nut to crack' and didn’t surrender until 19/9/44)

Two of WARSPITE's main targets were the coastal batteries at Le Conquet and St Mathieu that contained guns up to 280 mm. She fired 213 rounds of 15in, 147 HE and 66 AP, return fire was accurate but she was only hit by shell splinters.


10th - Arrived off Le Havre where she joined monitor EREBUS to provided gunfire support for British 49th and 51st Divisions during shore operations to occupy Le Havre. During the bombardment WARSPITE and EREBUS fired 300 x 15in shells. The German garrison of Le Havre surrendered on 12/9/44.

(Le Havre had been invested since 2/9/44. The land assault on Le Havre [Operation ASTONIA] commenced on 10/9/44. For details see CAMPAIGN IN NORTH WEST EUROPE, JUNE 1944 (HMSO).)

(Note: It was on the 27/8/44 when the 1st MSF of HM Minesweepers HARRIER, BRITOMART, HUSSAR, SALAMANDER, GLEANER and JASON, and HM Trawlers COLSAY and LORD ASHFIELD were clearing a passage for the bombarding ships that the worst incidence of attack and sinking from 'friendly fire', in WW2, occurred. Sixteen RAF Typhoons, eight each from 263 and 266 (Rhodesia) Squadrons that had taken off at 1305 hours from landing strip B3, in Normandy, attacked the minesweepers at 1330 hours. 86 were killed and 124 wounded, BRITOMART and HUSSAR were sunk and SALAMANDER had her stern blown off)

11th - Returned to Portsmouth.


At Portsmouth

30th - Sailed from Portsmouth in company with monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS as bombardment Force T who were to provide bombardment support for Operation INFATUATE II. The commander of Force T was WARSPITE’s captain.

(The port of Antwerp was captured intact on 4/9/44 and although its facilities were desperately required by the allies the port could not be used until the River Scheldt estuary had been cleared of the enemy. The clearing of the north and south banks of the river commenced on 2/10/44 by the First Canadian Army. By the end of October only the Island of Walcheren remained to be cleared. Walcheren was strongly held with about 10000 defenders and formidable coastal and artillery batteries and strong-points.

On the 31/10/44 Operation INFATUATE 1 commenced with the Canadians attacking across the causeway and from the south bank.

Operation INFATUATE II was an amphibious assault on Westkapelle in the north west of the island by 4 Commando [was 4th Special Service Brigade], consisting of Numbers 41, 47, and 48 RM Commandos supported by specialized armored vehicles of the 79th Armoured Division. The NW corner of Walcheren Island contained 28 artillery pieces ranging in size from 88mm to 220mm, most of which were set in casemates.)

In the evening Force T anchored off Deal.

31st - In the evening Force T sailed from Deal.


1st - At 0445 hours off Ostende Force T RVed with frigate KINGSMILL HQ ship, the Landing Craft carrying the assault forces and the 27 Landing Craft Support craft. Course was set for Westkapelle, following the minesweepers who sweeping ahead of the force.
At 0700 hours the Germans attempted to shroud the Westkapelle lighthouse in smoke.
At 0715 hours the battery at Domburg (W17 4 x 220mm guns) opened fire on the assault force that was attacking in the south of the island at Flushing.
At 0730 hours when Force T arrived at its bombarding position WARSPITE signalled to the minesweepers 'your difficult task is done, my easy one is now beginning'.
At 0809 hours Westkapelle Battery (W15, 4 x 94mm guns, ex British 3.7in AA guns) opened fire.
At 0820 the heavy bombardment Squadron, Force T opened fire. Their main targets were batteries W 15 and W 17.
At 0825 hours the Landing Craft of the support squadron opened fire on the defences adjacent to the landing area.
By 1015 hours all assault forces were ashore.
During the day WARSPITE engaged targets of opportunity.
At the end of the day
because of extensive wear to gun barrels it was decided her task was finished and she headed back to Deal.
Since 6/6/44 she had fired about 1500 rounds of 15in. After
Walcheren her guns never fired again, her war was over.

2nd - Arrived off Deal.

4th - Arrived at Portsmouth where she was placed into category C reserve


At Portsmouth

30th - Commander George Fellowes Blaxland RN took over as her new captain.


1 9 4 5


At Portsmouth


At Portsmouth

1st - A signal was received ordering her to pay off into reserve.

15th - She was moored up to the reserve fleet buoy off the Mother Bank off Spithead were she lay until the last day of March 1945.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s

On the 27th September 1945 Admiral Andrew Cunningham was installed as Knight of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, at this time he handed over WARSPITE’s ensign to the Cathedral for safe keeping. This was ABC’s final tribute to his much loved flagship and ensured at least one small reminder of the Grand Old Lady remained.

HMS WARSPITE was held in Reserve at Portsmouth and placed on Disposal List and sold to BISCO for demolition by Metal Industries at Faslane on 12th July 1946. On 23rd April 1947 whilst on passage to the breaker’s yard the tow parted and ship ran aground in Prussian Cove, 6 miles east of Penzance. The wreck was surveyed and declared a Total Loss with a payment of £150,000 by the Insurers. The hulk was too big to deal with and resold to RH Bennet, Bristol. Eventually it was refloated and beached at Marazion where the breaking up was not completed until 1956. During this period, after an accident in which two men died, the valiant rescue attempt was recognized by the award of two George Medals, two British Empire Medals and a Kings Commendation.





Some of the March 1942 material is based  on 'Leonard Birchall and the Japanese Raid on Colombo' by Rob Stuart, for which our thanks..





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









HX 009





CF 012





CF 012A




(Note on Convoys)



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