HMS Warspite & the Second Battle of Narvik
HMS Warspite & the Second Battle of Narvik The Royal Navy considered it imperative, for morale and strategic purposes, to defeat the Germans in Narvik, so 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.
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 were 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.
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 military historian who resides with his wife in the United Kingdom.
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