The War Illustrated, No. 240, Vol. 10, August 30th 1946

LEFT NIGHT OF JUNE 7 B Miles GLORIOUS SOUKOCO onr “action" 4 2C»m.JUME a SCHARM HORST OPENED FIRE 4.31 \ARDENT LAID 1 [SMOKESCREEN GLORIOUS „ABANDON SHIP 5 20:SUNK 5.40 ACASTA STEAMED TOWARDS ENEMY: SUNK 5.28 ARDENT HIT SCHARNHORST WITH TORPEDO BEFORE J BEING SUNK 0 B . ^THORSHAVjn ' Faroe. If Scapa Flow H.M.S. GLORIOUS was inbuilt 1915 under emergency war programme as a shallow-draught cruiser, with a view to Baltic operations. Converted into an aircraft-carrier in 1930 at a cost of over £2,000,000, she displaced 22,503 tons on a length of 786 feet, and had a speed of 30-5 knots. She .carried 48 aircraft and was armed with sixteen 4*7-in. guns and four 3-pounders. The map shows the route of her last voyage and action with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. PAGE 291 M oto, W nght and Logan, map by courtesy of I he Daily Telegraph Great Stories o f the War Kelolft The Traqedq o f H .M.S .Glorious N view of the important role played J p cither sunk or putout of a by aircraft carriers in the Second Great War, it is a deplorable fact that, almost to the last, the Royal Navy found itself shorter o f these ships than o f those of any other category. Yet at the start it possessed five large carriers, H .M.S. Ark Royal, Furious, Courageous, Glorious and Eagle. Though only the first was really modern, all with the #exception o f the last- named had a speed of 30 knots or more. Unfortunately ,the Courageous was lost marine patrol in the Western Approaches, a fortnight after war had been declared. Vol. 1.) It is the view MottoThe Name of many naval air Exp la ins itself" specialists that this was a case o fan exceptionally valuable ship being thrown away through being assigned to duty for which she was not suitable. It might have been imagined that after this the utmost care would have been taken to provide adequate escort for any other large carrier likely to be exposed to unusual risk. Yet in June 1940 the Navy learned with surprise and dismay that H.M .S. Glorious, sister ship o f the Courageous, had been intercepted by a superior enemy force while returning from Norway practically unescorted. (See Admiralty announcement, page 676, Vol. 2.) For six years the facts o f the case remained obscure but in May 1946 an official report was circulated to Parliament which for the first time gave details o f this most unfortunate in- FRANC/S E. McMURTRSE Incident. the first four weeks of the Norwegian campaign almost the whole of our naval strength in home waters say engaged in escorting and carrying troops to and from Norway. With such efficiency was this work done that not a single soldier out o f the thousands transported lost his life as the result o f submarine or surface ship attack, and very few from air attack at sea. But with the invasion of France on May 10, and the heavy demands on the Navy for help to that country, Belgium and the Netherlands, a sharp change overcame the situation. With the evacuation of the British Army from Boulogne and Dunkirk, an exceptional strain was imposed on naval material, the majority o f the available destroyers being either sunk o r putout o faction in these operations. Obviously, too, the threat of an enemy invasion attempt could not be ignored, imposing a further burden. It was in these circumstances that plans had to be prepared for the evacuation of Northern Norway. It was arranged that the forces should sail in four groups, aggre­gating 13 large transports and a number of storeships. To escort these, the cruisers Southampton and Coventry, six destroyers, the repair ship Vindictive, a sloop and a number o f trawlers were assigned. The Commander-in-C hief, Home Fleet, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Forbes, was asked by the Flag Officer, N arvik, Admiral of the Fleet the Earl o f Cork and O rrery, if a cover­ing force could be provided to escort the first group o f six large ships. This was to assem bleat a rendezvous some 210 miles to the west o f H arstad, Norw ay, under the escort of the old Vindictive, and would be met by the battleship Valiant, which would escort it as far as the latitude o f the Shetlands. rile Valiant was to leave Scapa Flow at 21.00 on June 6, while the convoy would sail from N arvik very early the following day. Glorious Sailed Independently There were only four British capital ships in northern waters at this time, the battle­ships Rodney and Valiant and the battle cruisers Renown and Repulse. The Rodney, flagship o f the C .-in-C .,was at Scapa, while the Renown and Repulse were at sea, having been ordered on June 7 to Iceland to guard against a possible German landing there. Shortly after midnight on June 7-8 the C.-in- C. was instructed by the Admiralty to have two capital ships available to proceed south casein o f invasion, whereupon the Renown was ordered to return to Scapa.
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