British Naval battles 1793-1945

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British Naval battles 1793-1945

Postby apowell » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:58 am

Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815

Atlantic Ocean (The Glorious First of June )
1 June 1794
British fleet commanded Admiral Lord Howe defeats French fleet commanded Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse in North Atlantic.

Battle of Cape St Vincent
14 February 1797
British fleet commanded by British Admirals defeated Spanish fleet commanded by Admiral Don José de Córdoba y Ramos. Four of the Spanish fleet were captured and Spain was never again able to pose a threat to British shipping.

Battle of the Nile
1–3 August 1798
British fleet under the newly promoted Admiral Nelson defeats French fleet commanded François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers. 2,000–5,000 French sailors/marines were killed and 3,000–3,900 captured.Two French ships of the line destroyed including two frigates and nine ships of the line captured. The French Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers was wounded twice during the day, almost cut in half by a cannon shot and died at his command post. His ship exploded one hour later after being on fire for some time. The Battle of the Nile remains one of the Royal Navy's most famous victories.

Battle of Coppenhagen
2 April 1801
British fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker defeat Danish-Norwegian fleet commanded Olfert Fischer and Steen Andersen Bille anchored just off Copenhagen. Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack. He famously is reputed to have disobeyed Sir Hyde Parker's order to withdraw by holding the telescope to his blind eye to look at the signals from Parker. But Parker's signals had given him permission to withdraw at his discretion, and Nelson declined. His action in proceeding resulted in the destruction of many of the Dano-Norwegian ships before a truce was agreed. Copenhagen is often considered to be Nelson's hardest-fought battle.

Battle of Trafalgar
21 October 1805
British Fleet commanded Lord Nelson destroys French/Spanish fleet commanded French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve and Spanish Admiral Federico Gravina. Ten French and Eleven Spanish ships were captured with one French being destroyed. French suffered 2,218 dead, 1,155 wounded. The Spanish suffered 1,025 dead and 1,383 wounded. British losses were light with 458 dead and 1,208 wounded. Many French/Spanish sailors/marines were captured during the battle but Some 3,000 prisoners drowned in major storms that occured after the battle.

The French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve was taken prisoner and the Spanish Admiral Federico Gravina died of his wounds suffered during the battle. He was reported to have said on his deathbed on 9 March 1806 "I am a dying man, but I die happy; I am going, I hope and trust, to join Nelson, the greatest hero that the world perhaps has produced."

Lord Nelson was shot by sniper fire around one o'clock on the deck of the Victory, as he lay dying on the deck he said to Hardy 'You can do nothing for me. I have but a short time to live. My back is shot through '. Nelson was made comfortable below deck Nelson, prior to his death said "Thank God I have done my duty". Nelson died at half-past four, three hours after he had been shot. Nelson's body was placed in a cask of brandy mixed with camphor and myrrh, which was then lashed to the Victory's mainmast and placed under guard. Victory was towed to Gibraltar after the battle, and on arrival the body was transferred to a lead-lined coffin filled with spirits of wine. A funeral procession consisting of 32 admirals, over a hundred captains, and an escort of 10,000 soldiers took the coffin from the Admiralty to St Paul's Cathedral. After a four-hour service he was interred.

First World War 1914-1918

Atlantic U-boat Campaign
The Atlantic U-boat Campaign of World War I was the naval campaign fought by German U-boats in Atlantic waters - the seas around the British Isles, the North Sea, and the coast of France. Initially directed against the British Grand Fleet, later it was extended to include action against the trade routes of the Entente Powers. The campaign was highly destructive, and resulted in the loss of nearly half of Britain's merchant marine fleet during the course of the war.

The U-boat campaign was not able to cut off supplies before the US entered the war in 1917 and in later 1918, the U-boat bases were abandoned in the face of the Allied advance.

Battle of the Falkland Islands
8 December 1914
British Navy defeats German Navy sinking two armoured cruisers and two light cruisers.

Battle of Dogger Bank
24 January 1915
British Navy commanded Admiral Beatty defeats German Navy commanded Admiral Franz Hipper sinking one armoured cruiser and inflicting heavy damage on one battlecruiser.

Battle of Jutland
31 May 1916 – 1 June 1916
British navy ensured dominance of the North Sea against the German navy. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war. Sir John Jellicoeand and Sir David Beatty commanded a combined force of 151 ships against 99 ships of the German navy commanded by Reinhard Scheer and Franz Hipper. the Allied fleet lost three battlecruisers, three armoured cruisers and eight destroyers with 6,094 killed, 674 wounded and 177 captured. The German fleet lost one battlecruiser, one pre-dreadnought, four light cruisers, and five torpedo-boats with 2,551 killed and 507 wounded. Also among the combatants was the then 20-year-old Prince Albert, second in line to the British throne, who would serve as King George VI of the United Kingdom from 1936 until his death in 1952. He served as a junior officer in the Royal Navy.

Second World War 1939–1945

The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1945
This was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II AND was at its height from mid-1940 through to the end of 1943. The Battle of the Atlantic pitted U-boats and other warships of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) and aircraft of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) against the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Navy, and Allied merchant shipping. The convoys, coming mainly from North America and predominantly going to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, were protected for the most part by the British and Canadian navies and air forces. These forces were aided by ships and aircraft of the United States from September 13, 1941.

As an island nation, the United Kingdom was highly dependent on imported goods. Britain required more than a million tons of imported material per week in order to be able to survive and fight. In essence, the Battle of the Atlantic was a tonnage war: the Allied struggle to supply Britain and the Axis attempt to stem the flow of merchant shipping that enabled Britain to keep fighting. From 1942 onwards, the Germans also sought to prevent the build-up of Allied supplies and equipment in the British Isles in preparation for the invasion of occupied Europe. The defeat of the U-boat threat was a pre-requisite for pushing back the Germans. Winston Churchill was later to state:

The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome.

The outcome of the battle was a strategic victory for the Allies—the German blockade failed—but at great cost: 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk for the loss of 783 U-boats.

The name "Battle of the Atlantic" was coined by Winston Churchill in February 1941. The campaign started immediately after the European war began, and lasted six years. It involved thousands of ships in more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters, in a theatre covering thousands of square miles of ocean. The situation changed constantly, with one side or the other gaining advantage, as new weapons, tactics, counter-measures, and equipment were developed by both sides. The Allies gradually gained the upper hand, overcoming German surface raiders by the end of 1942 and defeating the U-boats by mid-1943, though losses to U-boats continued to war's end.

Battles of Narvik
9 April to 8 June 1940
The British navy defeated the German Navy during the campaign in Norway and on the 13 April three of the German destroyers were sunk by Warspite and her escorts, and the other five were scuttled by their own crews when they ran out of fuel and ammunition. First to go was Erich Koellner which tried to ambush the Allied forces, but was spotted by Warspite's Swordfish and subsequently torpedoed and shelled by the destroyers and battleship. The destroyer's commander, Alfred Schulze-Hinrichs, and the surviving members of his crew, were captured by Norwegian forces. Then Wolfgang Zenker, Bernd von Arnim, Hans Ludemann and Hermann Künne engaged the British forces, but only managed to lightly damage HMS Bedouin. British aircraft from Furious tried to engage the German destroyers but were unsuccessful; two were lost. Wolfgang Zenker tried to torpedo Warspite.

Battle of Taranto
11–12 November 1940
The British Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, flying a small number of obsolescent biplane torpedo bombers from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina at anchor in the harbour of Taranto using aerial torpedoes despite the shallow depth of the water in the harbour. The devastation wrought by the British carrier-launched aircraft on the large Italian warships was the beginning of the rise of the power of naval aviation, over the big guns of battleships. According to Admiral Cunningham, "Taranto, and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon."

Sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse
10 December 1941
This took place north of Singapore, off the east coast of Malaya where the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese airforce. The Prince of Wales and Repulse were the first capital ships actively defending themselves to be sunk solely by air power while steaming in the open sea. Winston Churchill later wrote of the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse
' In all the war, I never received a more direct shock... As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor, who were hastening back to California. Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked'.

The wrecks of the two ships were found after the war, Repulse in 183 feet (56 m) of water, and Prince of Wales in 223 feet (68 m). Both are in a nearly upside-down position. Buoys were attached to the propeller shafts, and flags of the Royal Navy are attached to the lines and are regularly changed by divers. These Royal Navy wrecks are Crown property. The Prince of Wales' bell was removed from the wreck in 2002 by an authorised team of Royal Navy and British civilian divers in response to fears it would be stolen by unauthorised divers. The bell is now on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool. It is currently traditional for every passing Royal Navy ship to perform a remembrance service over the site of the wrecks.
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