HMS Queen Elizabeth (2012)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (pennant number 00) was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of Dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. She saw service in both World Wars.


World War One

She was launched on 16 October 1913 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, and entered service in January 1915 during World War I.

While still undergoing testing in the Mediterranean, the Queen Elizabeth was sent to the Dardanelles for the Allied attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The Queen Elizabeth was the only modern battleship to participate, though a number of battlecruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships were also involved. She became the flagship for the preliminary naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, leading the first line of British battleships in the decisive battle of 18 March 1915. During the military invasion of the Gallipoli on 25 April, the Queen Elizabeth was the flagship for General Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. However, after the sinking of HMS Goliath by a Turkish torpedo boat on 12 May, the Queen Elizabeth was immediately withdrawn to a safer position.

She joined Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron (consisting of Queen Elizabeth-class battleships) of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but she missed the Battle of Jutland due to being in dock for maintenance.

Inter war period

Between the wars she was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from 1919 to 1924. From 1924 she was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. She was extensively re-built, coming out of refit with an all new superstructure, her 6 inch (152 mm) guns removed and in their place she received 20 4.5 in (114 mm) guns and several smaller anti-aircraft guns. She also received facilities for aircraft with a launching catapult amidships. During the Spanish Civil War she participated in the non-intervention blockade. The future First Sea Lord John H. D. Cunningham served aboard her as Master of the Fleet, in 1922.

World War Two

During World War II, she was part of the Mediterranean Fleet. She along with HMS Valiant was mined and seriously damaged by Italian frogmen in a daring attack on 18 December 1941 in shallow water in the harbour at Alexandria, Egypt, with the loss of nine men of her complement. Although grounded on the harbour bottom, her decks were clear and the Italian crews were captured. She was able to maintain the illusion of full operational status, concealing the weak British position in the Mediterranean, until raised and patched up for the journey to the United States Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia where she was repaired and given a full refit lasting from September 1942 to June 1943. From there she was sent to the Pacific, where she served from 1944, taking part in raids on Japanese bases in Indonesia. She returned to Britain in July 1945, and was sold for scrap in March 1948.

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