Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Death Of HMS Warspite

Death Of HMS Warspite

AN ANTI-SUBMARINE PATROL IN THE SEYCHELLES. 28 JUNE 1942. (A 11034) HMS WARSPITE seen refuelling at Port Victoria, Seychelles. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

31st July 1950: Black smoke drifts skyward from a tug off the stern of Warspite as it helps to tow the partially scrapped battleship to Marazion Beach. It is often stated in publications and sites that the gallant HMS Warspite was scrapped in situ at Prussia Cove.

However, though much of her upper works were removed her hull was refloated and she was towed to Marazion beach by St Michael’s Mount in July 1950.
HMS ‘Warspite’ (1913). This negative was taken by Commander Curzon on the 2nd or 3rd June 1916 and it is one of a series of 27 negatives taken of the battleship Warspite (1913) in No. 1 dry dock, Rosyth Dockyard. Furthermore, showing damage received on 31st May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. It shows blast damage caused to the starboard hull plating by a 28 cm (12 inch) shell. Which penetrated the port side of the upper deck, passed through the captain’s accommodation and burst in the Captain of the Fleet’s day cabin on the starboard side of the main deck under ‘Y’ 15 inch gun turret. Lastly, the Warspite (1913) was serving as a unit of the 5th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
The job of blasting her to pieces continued over the next seven sad years.

The saga started when Warspite left Spithead under tow to the Gareloch by the tugs Melinda III and Bustler.

On 20th April 1947 she was off Land’s End. Caught in the full fury of an Atlantic storm, she bucked and struggled so violently the tow line to one of the attendant tugs, Bustler, parted and Melinda III was forced to slip the tow. A Daily Telegraph eyewitness account stated:

“I flew over the Warspite and her escort last night as they crept slowly along the Channel through heavy weather within sight of the shore twenty miles west of the Lizard.

The tugs were straining at the tow ropes fore and aft. Pulling almost at right angles to starboard, with the ship’s bows to the coast. Their position hardly changed as we circled. And the tugs appeared to be doing little more than hold the great battleship in the heavy seas. Both tugs were pitching so steeply that at times their screws were out of the water.”

D-day – British Forces during the Invasion of Normandy 6 June 1944 HMS WARSPITE, part of Bombarding Force ‘D’ off Le Havre, shelling German gun batteries in support of the landings on Sword area, 6 June 1944. In addition, the photo was taken from the frigate HMS HOLMES which formed part of the escort group.

Fresh lines from the tugs were made fast and the decision was taken to tow her into the shelter of Mount’s Bay. Located near Penzance, where she dropped anchor to ride out the storm. Furthermore, on 23rd April the savage power of the continuing storm saw her break free of her anchor.

The defenceless old lady, with but a skeleton crew of eight men aboard, was powerless to resit the rolling waves.
Warspite became swept across the bay to run aground as the storm drove her onto Mount Mopus Ledge near Cudden Point.

She refused to go quietly, however, and she refloated herself only to crash into dangerous rocks at Prussia Cove. She went down by her bow on the rocks and stuck fast.

In conclusion, surviving veterans of the Warspite Association make an annual journey to Cornwall to pay homage to their old ship, at a memorial to her on the shore at Marazion.

Warspite April 1947

Warspite October 1947

Lastly, the stone was unveiled by Admiral Sir Charles Madden and prayers were read by a former crew member.

Warspite Memorial, Prussia Cove This is the Warspite Memorial, on the headland between Prussia Cove and Cudden Point. The Warspite, a battleship built in 1913 and the eighth to be given that name, took part in many sea battles in the second world war. She was on her way to be broken up when she ran aground on the rocks, and the memorial marks this spot. The memorial itself is actually wood from the ship itself.
Mari Buckley / Warspite Memorial, Prussia Cove / CC BY-SA 2.0
Death Of HMS Warspite

By Bass Moog

Queen Elizabeth Class Battleships

The Shipbuilding Plunderer of Scotland & England

HMS Inflexible : The Thickest Armored Belt Ever Fitted