The Royal Navy considered it imperative, for morale and strategic purposes, to defeat the Germans in Narvik. As a result, Vice Admiral William Whitworth was sent with the battleship HMS Warspite and nine destroyers.
The squadron included four Tribal-class (HMS Bedouin, Cossack, Punjabi, and Eskimo) and five others (HMS Kimberley, Hero, Icarus, Forester and Foxhound), accompanied by aircraft from the aircraft carrier HMS Furious.
These forces arrived in the Ofotfjord on 13 April to find that the eight remaining German destroyers—now under the command of Fregattenkapitän Erich Bey—were virtually stranded due to lack of fuel and were short of ammunition.
One can only imagine what sheer terror the Kriegsmarine sailors felt alone and abandoned on their destroyers when Warspite along with 9 destroyers stormed towards them!
Before the battle, Warspite launched its catapult plane (a float-equipped Fairey Swordfish, L 9767), which bombed and sank U-64, anchored in the Herjangsfjord near Bjerkvik. Most of the crew survived and became rescued by German mountain troops.
This was the first U-boat to be sunk by an aircraft during the Second World War and the only instance where an aircraft launched from a battleship sank a U-boat.
Warspite engaging shore batteries during the Second Battle of Narvik, April 1940.
In the ensuing battle, three of the German destroyers were sunk by Warspite and her escorts and the other five were scuttled by their crews when they ran out of fuel and ammunition
Warspite also opened fire on the land and shore batteries and installations were also very badly damaged by Warspite’s guns.
The Kriegsmarine had its back broken in this campaign as almost half its destroyer strength had been destroyed by the Royal Navy.
HMS Warspite & the Second Battle of Narvik Written by Harry Gillespie
Harry Gillespie is a writer who resides in the UK with his family. His work focuses on Naval & British history with a specific look at 20th century warfare and ships. From World War 1 to The Falkland Islands Campaign.
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