Where is HMS Warspite now?

Where is HMS Warspite now?

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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205144680

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

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Where is HMS Warspite now?

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She wasn’t the biggest, the most advanced nor the most powerful, but she served long past her theoretical obsolescence.

Warspite and Malaya at Jutland
Damage caused by a shell that exploded inside the ship at Jutland
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 engaging shore batteries during the Second Battle of Narvik
Warspite under attack in the Mediterranean, 1941
A Grumman Martlet from HMS Formidable flying near HMS Warspite during operations off Madagascar
Warspite shelling German positions at Catania, July 1943
Warspite bombarding defensive positions off Normandy, 6 June 1944
See the source image
On the way to be broken up. Courtesty IWM
See the source image
A Grumman Martlet fighter of No 888 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm operating from the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE, is seen flying over HMS WARSPITE while circling to land during Madagascar operations.
See the source image
See the source image

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However, it is tough to think of another battleship that comes close to her war record.

Whether HMS Warspite was slugging it out on the High Seas Fleet at Jutland, heading up a fjord to sink a flotilla’s worth of destroyers, showing the Italians a thing or two in the Mediterranean, to having a Fritz X blow a big hole in her bottom, or to pounding the beaches of Normandy.

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HMS Warspite, HMS Illustrious, HMS Resolution & HMS Royal Sovereign

The HMS Warspite gave sterling service for over three decades. HMS Warspite possessed the same 15″/42 guns as the HMS Hood, HMS Repulse, HMS Renown, R-class ships and other Queen Elizabeth class boats.

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This class of guns were an old medium velocity wire-wound design that was technically obsolete by the mid 1920s.

However, it was arguably the best capital ship gun ever to see action in terms of the great service they gave over three decades. HMS Vanguard, the last battleship ever built for the Royal Navy was armed with them.

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HMS Warspite during the the D-Day landings

All four of HMS Warspite’s turrets and her guns came from the HMS Glorious and the HMS Courageous.

The Royal Navy modernized these guns extensively, including cutting the opening for the guns to extend higher, allowing them to elevate more and therefore have greater range.

HMS Warspite during the the D-Day landings

Furthermore, the 15/42 gun was older technology. Built using the wire wound method, shorter barrel, a medium velocity gun firing a heavy shell.

The 14/45 gun required more modern construction since the gun tube’s construction from several pieces. Moreover, called ‘built up’ construction. Which meant the barrel was more rigid and allowed higher velocities and better accuracy as the gun tube was more rigid and thus suffered less droop.

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Another advantage over the older wire wound guns was the ability to refurbish the guns by simply replacing the barrel liner.

The 14/45 was a very good gun too. But suffered from treaty restrictions. In addition, faced overmatched guns built without regard for the treaty. Such as the Italian 15/50 on the Littorios and the Japanese 18/46 on the Yamatos.

Britain did design and build a more powerful gun in the mkII 16 inch pieces intended for the Lions that were never built due to the war starting.

Of course, ‘’Best’ is a moot point!

HMS Warspite, Indian Ocean 1942.jpg
HMS WARSPITE of the Eastern Fleet and Flagship of Admiral Sir James Sommerville, underway in the Indian Ocean.

The HMS Warspite had the best service record, so if you are wondering which carrier had the best service record, you will have to do some digging. One would expect it would be a carrier that served throughout WW2 without getting sunk and participated in many battles.

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HMS Warspite passing HMS Hood at port

HMS Illustrious also fought right through the war and survived, so it’s probably a choice between USS Enterprise CV-6 and the HMS Illustrious for best war service record, bearing in mind that the HMS Illustrious fought for nearly two years before the US entered the war.

But, the HMS Illustrious had a lengthy repair in the middle after being hit with 2,200 lb bombs, so he actual time in active service during the war might be about the same as Enterprise.

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HMS Warspite being scrapped (early 1950s).

Sadly, Britain was bankrupt after the war so almost everything that could be scrapped was. That’s why there are so few wartime aircraft or ships left in preservation – they melted them all down for the aluminum.

Warspite Memorial, Prussia Cove. Where is HMS Warspite now?

Where is HMS Warspite now?