The Sea Cadet, No. 5, Vol. 2, January 1945

A Battleship Fires Her Heavy Guns The second-oldest British battleship, H.M.S. “War spite,” is sent to hammer German batteries on the Dutch coast Written by MARTIN CHISHOLM and photographed by HAYWOOD MAGEE The Ward room of H.M.S. War- spite, veteran of Jutland, and Britain’ s oldest battleship.* was emptier than usual. In one corner, a game of chess was on,going with a little knot of officers looking intently over the shoulders of the players. But one missed the usual groups of officers standing around talking. W arspite was underway, moving very slowly, at a bare eight knots, towards a certain spot marked on a highly secret chart in the possession of the captain. The loud­speaker of the ship’s broadcasting sys­tem croaked, agave metallic cough, and announced in a matter-of-fact but 132 [By courtesy o f “Picture Post ”]de-humanized voice: “Hands will togo action stations in fifteen minutes’ time. Clear up mess decks for action. Provide lifebelts.” The “certain spot ”on the Captain’s chart lay some miles off the coast of Walcheren Island. We had an urgent appointment to keep therewith certain German shore bat­teries around Westkapelle and Dom- burg. There .was another German battery, too, in a pocket of German- held land at Knocke. on the Belgian coast. But I tried not to think about that one. It had eleven-inch guns, four of them. And an eleven-inch shore gun has it all the time. It can shoot farther *Sce footnote at end o f article than a gunship's of much larger calibre. It’s liable to be more accurate, too, And on this occasion we were going to be within range of Knocke for avery longtime. People began to stroll into and out of the wardroom, struggling into duffel coats or oilskins, stuffing cigarettes and matches into their pockets in readiness for many hours of tense discomfort. An engineer officer in white overalls strolled through, a book under his arm. It was Carlyle’s Essays, his stand-by to pass the time of waiting at his post atone of the damage-control stations. A turret officer fumbled in his pocket to The“W arspite ”is steaming towards the coast o f Holland to bombard German shore batteries. “Action stations” will soon be sounded off and the ship will be ready to join battle with powerful German guns. From that moment officers and men will spend hour after hour at tlieir cramped posts on the bridge and below decks
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