Battleship HMS Rodney at War

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185114

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1426) On board HMS RODNEY ‘Boys’ receiving instruction on how to ‘heave the lead’. The lead weighs 10 to 14 pounds and the picture shows a Boy standing in the ‘chains’ about to heave the lead. Going in and out of harbour a Leadman is always in the chains taking soundings which he calls out to the bridge. The Forth railway bridge can be seen in the distance. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185116

 

MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14364) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147536

 

GUNNERS KEEP UP TO THE MARK ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15733) A gunnery spotting table rigged up on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. A model ship and model splashes are used to indicate to the gunnery control officer high up in the director control tower, the accuracy of his ‘fire’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149007

 

SENDING UP THE HEAVY SHELLS ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15737) In a 16′ shell ammunition room on board HMS RODNEY a sailor revolves a shell into the hoist while an empty shell container returns to position to fetch another shell from the tray. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148757

 

MIDSHIPMEN TRAINING ON THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15736) Midshipmen being trained in rifle drill on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148756

Sawed off stern battleships HMS Rodney & HMS Nelson

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370

 

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, Nelson class battleships HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney were unique in being the only battleships in the world with all main batteries mounted on the foredeck as well as being the only European battleships armed with 16 inch guns.

 HMS Nelson during gunnery trials. Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

In order to meet the restrictions something had to give. Hence Nelson and Rodney were given far less engine power than they needed and the ships were slow, their maximum speed being 23 knots vs King George V class battleships laid down in mid 1930s without treaty restrictions which could make 28 knots plus. KGV class had 14 inch guns. The Bismarck carried 15 inch guns as did HMS Hood and the other Royal Navy battlecruisers HMS Repulse and HMS Renown.

In spite of their efforts, the Admiralty had a difficult time making a workable design of the Nelson class battleships. One problem: if all main batteries were trained abaft the bridge structure and fired, then the explosive shock shattered the glass on the bridge.

FLEET MANOEUVRES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. 16 MARCH 1943, ON BOARD BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY, FLEET EVASIVE MANOEUVRES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AS SEEN FROM THE BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY. (A 15690) HMS NELSON, and the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE as seen from the RODNEY during the MANOEUVRES. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148718

 

MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14363) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147535

You can see how massive these ships were even in their truncated state since they had the deck space required for a game of deck hockey, a popular sport in the Royal Navy of the era.

Mighty Royal Navy 1930s

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65675) The Renown Class battlecruiser HMS REPULSE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212368
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65675) The Renown Class battlecruiser HMS REPULSE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212368

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, HMS Rodney and her sister ship, HMS Nelson, both had all three turrets of their main armament on the fore deck of the ship. As odd as these ships looked, their carried 16 inch guns, the largest in the Royal Navy.

 

THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE INTER WAR PERIOD. (Q 83396) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY at Devonpart Dockyard in December 1927. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205090613
THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE INTER WAR PERIOD. (Q 83396) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY at Devonpart Dockyard in December 1927. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205090613

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65664) The battlecruiser HMS HOOD. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212356
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65664) The battlecruiser HMS HOOD. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212356

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65673) The Renown Class battlecruiser HMS RENOWN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212367
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65673) The Renown Class battlecruiser HMS RENOWN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212367

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65625) The Royal Sovereign Class battleship HMS RESOLUTION in September 1933. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212369
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65625) The Royal Sovereign Class battleship HMS RESOLUTION in September 1933. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212369

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65690) The aircraft carrier HMS EAGLE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212323
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65690) The aircraft carrier HMS EAGLE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212323

 

THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE INTER WAR PERIOD. (Q 93334) The Flower Class sloop HMS CROCUS whilst serving in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, 1922-23. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205127179
THE ROYAL NAVY IN THE INTER WAR PERIOD. (Q 93334) The Flower Class sloop HMS CROCUS whilst serving in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, 1922-23. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205127179

 

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65612) The Nelson Class battleship HMS NELSON. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212363
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65612) The Nelson Class battleship HMS NELSON. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212363

Royal Navy Battleship Stoker Shags Sheep Says Thought It Was WREN in Duffel Coat

Caught in a Compromising Position With A Sheep

 

1024px-King_George_V_class_battleship_1945

HMS King George V enters Apra Harbor, Guam, with sailors in formation on deck. 1945. 

(Official US Navy photograph)

 

From Hands to Actions Stations, the war memoir of Lt. Commander Peter Poland, RN.

In late May of 1941, Peter Poland found himself aboard the battleship HMS King George V while she was steaming to stop the Bismarck. Battleship HMS Rodney had steamed to join KGV and as the Rodney appeared and steamed past KGV to take up station astern, the sailors on the upper deck of the King George V began to bay like sheep at the Rodney.

“Baaaa……Baaaa”

Young Peter was quite surprised at this behavior. He was informed that one year past, a stoker from HMS Rodney had been discovered in a comprising position with a sheep on one of the small islands around the fleet anchorage in Scapa Flow.

Writes Peter, “rumour had it that at his subsequent court martial he had pleaded that he thought the sheep was a Wren  in a duffle coat. (Wrens were women in the Royal Navy). Since then and for the rest of her life, any time either Rodney herself or one of her ship’s boats was sighted, it would be greeted with a chorus of ‘Baas’. Now, even though action was imminent, there was no exception.”

This is quite an interesting memoir. Poland was from a very wealthy and prominent family but suffered through what he found to be incredibly dull years at the naval training academy at Dartmouth. He went onto to serve aboard various ships and spent almost the entire war at sea.

 

HMS Rodney

HMS Rodney at sea. She was summoned by C-in-C Home Fleet, Sir John Tovey, during his pursuit of the Bismarck. Both HMS Rodney and her sister ship, HMS Nelson, were armed with 16 inch guns, the largest in the Royal Navy. Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, and known as “treaty battleships” their main batteries were mounted in three turrets on the foredeck, an unusual configuration to say the least. The aft turret, just meters to the fore of the bridge structure, could not be fired at the furthest arc either port of starboard since the blast would shatter all the glass in the bridge structure. These were the only battleships in the Royal Navy ever designed in this manner.