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HMS Glorious

 HMS Glorious  

HMS Glorious was the second of the Courageous-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War. Designed to support the Baltic Project championed by the First Sea Lord, Lord Fisher, they were very lightly armoured and armed with only a few heavy guns. Glorious was completed in late 1916 and spent the war patrolling the North Sea. She participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917 and was present when the German High Seas Fleet surrendered a year later. Glorious was paid off after the end of the war, but was rebuilt as an aircraft carrier during the late 1920s. She could carry 30% more aircraft than her half-sister Furious which had approximately the same tonnage. After recommissioning she spent most of her career operating in the Mediterranean Sea. After the start of the Second World War, Glorious spent the rest of 1939 unsuccessfully hunting for the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee in the Indian Ocean before returning to the Mediterranean. She was recalled in April 1940 to support British operations in Norway. While evacuating British aircraft from Norway in June, the ship was sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the North Sea with the loss of over 1,200 lives.

  • Name: HMS Glorious
  • Ordered: 14 March 1915
  • Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
  • Cost: £1,967,223
  • Laid down: 1 May 1915
  • Launched: 20 April 1916
  • Commissioned: January 1917
  • Reclassified: Converted to aircraft carrier February 1924 to March 1930
  • Fate: Sunk by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau 8 June 1940

Her keel was laid down on 1 May 1915 by Harland and Wolff at their Belfast shipyard. Glorious was launched on 20 April 1916 and completed on 14 October 1916. Courageous had received stiffening after damages in her sea trials. Glorious did not suffer any similar damage and did not receive her stiffening until 1918. Upon commissioning, Glorious served with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet. After most of the 1st Cruiser Squadron was sunk at the Battle of Jutland, the squadron was re-formed with Courageous as flagship along with her sister ship Glorious.She cost £1,967,223 to build. Glorious received a half a dozen torpedo mounts, each with two tubes in mid-1917. One mount on each side of the mainmast on the upper deck and two mounts on each side of the rear turret on the quarterdeck. On 16 October 1917 the Admiralty received word of German ship movements, possibly indicating some sort of raid. Admiral Beatty, the commander of the Grand Fleet, ordered most of his light cruisers and destroyers to sea in an effort to locate the enemy ships. Courageous and Glorious were not initially ordered to sea, but were sent to reinforce the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron patrolling the central part of the North Sea later that day. Two German Brummer-class light cruisers managed to slip through the gaps in the British patrols and destroyed a convoy bound for Norway during the morning of 17 October, but no word was received of the engagement until that afternoon. The 1st Cruiser Squadron were ordered to intercept, but were unsuccessful as the German cruisers were faster than expected.

Second Battle of Heligoland Bight

Throughout 1917 the Admiralty was becoming more concerned about German efforts to sweep paths through the British-laid minefields intended to restrict the actions of the High Seas Fleet and German submarines. A preliminary raid on German minesweeping forces on 31 October by light forces destroyed ten small ships and the Admiralty decided on a larger operation to destroy the minesweepers and their light cruiser escorts. Based on intelligence reports, the Admiralty allocated the 1st Cruiser Squadron on 17 November 1917, with cover provided by the reinforced 1st Battlecruiser Squadron and distant cover by the battleships of the 1st Battle Squadron. The German ships, four light cruisers of II Scouting Force, eight destroyers, three divisions of minesweepers, eight sperrbrecher (cork-filled trawlers) and two trawlers to mark the swept route, were spotted at 0730 am, silhouetted by the rising sun. Courageous and the light cruiser Cardiff opened fire with their forward guns seven minutes later. The Germans responded by laying a smoke screen and this made spotting targets very difficult. The British continued in pursuit, but lost track of most of the smaller ships in the smoke and concentrated fire on the light cruisers as opportunity permitted. One 15-inch hit was made on a gun shield of SMS Pillau, but it did not affect her speed. At 0833 the left-hand gun in Glorious's forward turret was wrecked when a shell detonated inside the gun barrel. At 0930 the 1st Cruiser Squadron broke off their pursuit so they would not enter a minefield marked on their maps and the ships turned south, playing no further role in the battle. Glorious required five days of repairs to right the damage caused from the premature detonation and from her own muzzle blast. She fired 57 15-inch and 213 4-inch shells during the engagement. The ship received flying-off platforms on top of her turrets in 1918. A Sopwith Camel was carried on the rear turret and a Sopwith 1½ Strutter on the forward turret. She was present at the surrender of the German fleet on 21 November 1918. Glorious was reduced to reserve at Rosyth on 1 February 1919 and served as a turret drill ship, but succeeded Courageous as flagship of the Rear-Admiral Commanding the Reserve at Devonport between 1921 and 1922.

John Doran

17th November 1917 Heligoland Bight 1917  The Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, also called the Action in the Helgoland Bight was an inconclusive naval engagement fought between British and German squadrons on 17 November 1917 during the First World War.

Background to events

Following the German Navy's successful raid on the Scandinavian convoy on 17 October 1917, Admiral Sir David Beatty, Commander-in-Chief of the British Grand Fleet, determined to retaliate. On 17 November 1917 a strong force of cruisers under Vice Admiral Trevylyan Napier was sent to attack German minesweepers, which were clearing a channel through British minefields in the Heligoland Bight. The intentions of the German force had been revealed by British Naval Intelligence, allowing the British to mount an ambush. The German sweepers were escorted by a group of cruisers and torpedo-boats under Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter.

The Battle

The action began at 0730 roughly 65 nautical miles west of Sylt, when HMS Courageous sighted the enemy. She opened fire at 0737. Admiral Reuter, the German commander, with four light cruisers and eight destroyers, courageously advanced to engage his more powerful enemy in order to cover the withdrawal of his minesweepers, all of which escaped except for the trawler Kehdingen(GE), which was sunk. The battle thereafter developed into a stern chase as the German forces, skilfully using smoke-screens, withdrew south-east at their best speed, under fire from the pursuing British ships of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, the 1st and 6th Light Cruiser Squadrons, and, later, HMS Repulse (which had been detached from the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron and came up at high speed to join the battle). Both sides were hampered in their maneuvers by the presence of naval minefields. The British ships gave up the chase some two hours later, as they reached the edge of known minefields. At about the same time, the light cruisers came under fire of two German battleships, SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin which had come up in support of von Reuter's ships. HMS Caledon was struck by one 12-in shell which did minimal damage and shortly thereafter, the British forces withdrew.

All personnel on the bridge of the light cruiser HMS Calypso, including her captain, Herbert Edwards, were killed by a 6-in shell. The battle cruiser HMS Repulse, briefly engaged the German ships at about 1000, scoring a single hit on the light cruiser SMS Königsberg that ignited a major fire on board. It was during this battle that Able Seaman John Henry Carless of HMS Caledon won a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in manning a gun despite mortal wounds.

Order of Battle

  • Royal Navy Ensign British forces - The following British vessels were engaged
  • 1st Cruiser Squadron: Vice Admiral Trevylyan D. W. Napier CB, MVO
  • HMS Courageous (flag; Capt Arthur Bromley)
  • HMS Glorious (Capt Charles B. Miller CB)
  • 13th Destroyer Flotilla
  • HMS Ursa (Cdr John C. Tovey)
  • HMS Nerissa (Lt. Cdr. Montague G. B. Legge DSO)
  • HMS Urchin (Lt Cdr Guy P. Bowles)
  • HMS Umpire (Lt Cdr Roger V. Alison DSO)
  • 6th Light Cruiser Squadron: Rear Admiral Edwyn S. Alexander-Sinclair CB MVO
  • HMS Cardiff (flag; Capt. Claud H. Sinclair)
  • HMS Ceres (Capt. the Hon. Herbert Meade DSO)
  • HMS Calypso (Capt. Herbert L. Edwards)
  • HMS Caradoc (Capt. William M. Kerr)
  • 13th Destroyer Flotilla
  • HMS Valentine - flotilla leader (Cdr. Charles A. Fremantle)
  • HMS Vimiera (Cdr. Dashwood F. Moir)
  • HMS Vanquisher (Lt Cdr. Kenneth A. Beattie)
  • HMS Vehement (Lt. Vernon Hammersley-Heenan)
  • 1st Light Cruiser Squadron: Commodore Walter H. Cowan CB, MVO, DSO
  • HMS Caledon (Cdre Cowan)
  • HMS Galatea (Capt. Charles M. Forbes DSO)
  • HMS Royalist (Capt. the Hon. Mathew R. Best MVO, DSO)
  • HMS Inconstant (Capt. Francis A. Marten)
  • 13th Destroyer Flotilla
  • HMS Vendetta (Cdr. Charles G. Ramsey)
  • HMS Medway (Lt. Cdr. Charles H. Neill James)
  • 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron Detahment Rear Admiral Richard F. Phillimore CB, MVO
  • HMS Repulse (flag; Capt. William H. D. Boyle)

KLM Ensign German forces

  • The following German vessels were engaged
  • 2nd Scouting Group (Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter) light cruisers
  • SMS Königsberg (FKpt Karl Feldmann)
  • SMS Pillau (FKpt Gerhard von Gaudecker)
  • SMS Frankfurt (FKpt Otto Seidensticker)
  • SMS Nürnberg (KptzS Walther Hildebrand)
  • 7th Torpedo-Boat Flotilla (KKpt Cordes)
  • S62 (KptLt Fink; lead boat, flotilla)
  • G87 (OLtzS Komorowski)
  • 14th half-flotilla (KptLt Richard Beitzen)
  • G92 (KptLt Arthur von Killinger; lead boat, half-flotilla)
  • G93 (KptLt Reimer)
  • V83 (Kpt Lt Wedig von Keyserlingk)
  • 12th half-flotilla (KKpt Lahs)
  • V43 (OLtzS Narjes; lead boat, half-flotilla)
  • V44 (OLtzS Kautter)
  • V45 (KptLt Laßmann)
  • Minesweepers
  • 6th Minesweeper Half-Flotilla (6.Minensuchhalbflottille) (KptLt d'Ottilié):
  • M66, M7, A36, T74, M53, M4, M3,
  • M14th Auxiliary Minesweeper Half-Flotilla (4.Hilfsminensuchhalbflottille) (KptLt d R Joachim Löwe)
  • A63, A68, A69, A74, A41, A52
  • 2nd Auxiliary Minesweeper Half-Flotilla (KptLt d R Klose): fishing vessels
  • 6th Auxiliary Minesweeper Half-Flotilla (KptLt d R Wilke): fishing vessels
  • 4th Barrier-Breaker Group (IV. Sperrbrechergruppe) (KptLt d R Hillebrand): two vessels Group S
  • North Sea Outpost Half-Flotilla (LtzS Woldag): armed trawlers Fritz Reuter and Kehdingen(GE)
  • 4th Battle Squadron (Vice Admiral Wilhelm Souchon) detachment (KptzS Kurt Graßhoff)
  • SMS Kaiserin (KptzS Kurt Graßhoff)
  • SMS Kaiser (KptzS Max Loesch)
  • attached torpedo-boats (anti-submarine escort)
  • S18 (KptLt Wildemann)
  • S24 (KptLt Paschen)
John Doran

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