- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dennis Frederick Spencer
- Location of story:
- The English Channel
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 23 July 2005
Notes from World War 2 by
HMS Warspite “ The Old Lady”
2nd June 1944
The time is 9 PM approx. The Captain spoke to the ships company telling
Us that the great assault was at last to take place and that we were
Steaming to take part in it.
We have been steaming through the night and day down the west coast
To join up with the invasion forces.
We are steaming up and down the Bristol Channel. Waiting! Waiting!
The captain has broadcast that owing to the unfavourable weather conditions
The operation has been postponed for 24 hours so we shall steam back up
The channel for about 12 hours and then turn back.
During the evening we came round into the English Channel and everybody guessed
That we were on our way as the weather had cleared up a lot. Then we were told that we should be passing some convoys during the night and unless the weather changed
We should steam to our position and open fire at 05.45 hours the next morning.
At 20.30 hours that evening we went to action stations and stayed closed up throughout the night. I managed to get a spot of sleep in a shell bin, it was a trifle hard
But it was sleep at least.
Tues 6th D.Day
At approx 05.45 hours we were told to stand by for salvoes and that our target was an important gun battery above “Trouville” a small town once noted for its casinos.
We had some anxious moments as the battery straddled us with a salvo but our first one was the only one necessary as far as they were concerned. The rest of the day was spent shelling batteries, troops and a convoy of motor transport on a road. We silenced all our targets except one gun which the RAF finished off for us. We fell out for supper but closed up again throughout the night.
We had our meals such as they were in the turret. This evening we ate our supper on the upper deck and watched the 5th airborne division go in with gliders, It was the most magnificent sight I have ever seen for there we were with countless other ships lying in a bay about 4 or 5 miles off the enemy coast some of it still occupied sitting on the upper deck smoking and talking without a care in the world and overhead from horizon to horizon stretched long lines of air tugs with gliders in tow, it was a marvellous site.
We opened up during the day on stubborn batteries and troops and gave them hell,
At intervals we came out for a breather and to watch things we also got confirmation that we had sunk an enemy destroyer the previous morning, which cheered us up.
We shoved off at 19.00 hours and reached Pompey about 03.30 hours during the 2 days we were over there we fired 103 rounds from “A” turret alone and as each shell weighed over a ton that was a lot of shells for somebody.
We arrived at Pompey early in the morning dropped hook in the stream and started to load ammunition later in the day we went upstream to continue loading and were given shore leave from 18.15 to 07.00 hours much to everyone’s surprise.
Next day we finished loading the I.N.Os people who had been aboard to inspect the guns went off.
We left for the American sector at Cherbourg and relieved two US ships Texas and Nevada. Blood, Carry, Berky and myself worked till 02.30 hours releathering walking pipes.
We waited at second degree of readiness nearly all day before we got a target and did an excellent shoot. One in particular at a battery around which all the crew were sitting round smoking, it was a case of out pipes for them when we got cracking.
After that it was the best part of a panzer division. That evening we were relieved by the Nevada and steamed back along the coast to our original sector where we lay up for the night waiting for something to turn up.
It was fairly quite and we only did a shoot later in the day as things were beginning to get out of our range as our troops got further inland. We left this evening for Pompey.
We new today that we were going up north to get our guns changed, but we were not sure where. That evening we left harbour and the commander told us we were going through the straits of Dover at 04.00 hours the following morning and would have been the first British capital ship to pass through the straits since the war began. We all expected trouble and were closed up throughout the night. We got through ok although big guns on both sides of the channel opened up on each other and there was a fire in Dover.
About 08.00 to 08.15 hours we had fallen out from GQs and were congratulating ourselves on having got through all right when there was an explosion aft on port side.
I had just come out of “A” turret and felt the whole ship whip under the strain and the radar top whipped like a fishing rod, which made me think it was a wasa bomb. But it was a mine that we had struck and the “Old Lady” took a sharp list to port. I went back into the turret and then Emergency stations was piped so I went aft to the flight deck where the rest of the crowd were gathered fully expecting to have to walk over the side into a carley float. After a while we were told that the ship was steady and that we were under way. Sometime later we dispersed and went to dinner the ship had by now been brought back on to an even keel although a little low in the water.
We have some tugs standing by now and also an air escort and another destroyer so we feel pretty safe. I think we are somewhere off the Thames so if jerry discovers us we shall be for it.
We have made it all right and arrive at Rosyth about 21.00 hours on Wed 13th
And will soon go into dry dock so for a while the story ends.
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