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HMS Nelson

Nelson Class BB

Nelson in Scapa Flow
Nelson in Scapa Flow
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Nelson commissioned in August 1927 and embarked on a series of trials until finally relieving Revenge as Flagship, Atlantic Fleet, that October. She remained Flagship after this fleet had been redesignated Home Fleet in 1932 and continued to be so until December 1940. Prior to the outbreak of war she participated in the Spithead Review of July 1935 and was extensively refitted at Portsmouth in 1937-8. Early in WW2she took part in the hunt for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau 23-30 November 1939 but a few days later was badly damaged by a magnetic mine laid by U31 off the entrance to Loch Ewe. This exploded under the forecastle, causing damage to the hull and flooding several compartments, some 74 men suffering injuries. Unable to sail until 4 January, she arrived at Portsmouth on the 8th for repairs which were not completed until August 1940 when she resumed her role as Fleet Flagship. She joined the hunt for Admiral Scheer following the sinking of Jervis Bay in November 1940 and in the operations south of Iceland against Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, again during the first three months of 1941 when this pair were raiding in the Atlantic. After her relief as Flagship by King George V on 1 April 1941, Nelson was detached to cover a Middle East troop convoy via the Cape, returning to the Home Fleet in June. In the meantime, however, she missed a golden opportunity on 18 May when she passed within 7,000 yards of the raider Atlantis while off the coast of South-West Africa. In the darkness her lookouts proved less alert than those in the raider. Nelson was transferred to Force H in July 1941 and covered a supply run to Malta (Operation 'Substance') 21-27 July. On 8 August she relieved Renown as Flag, but while operating in support of a large Malta convoy (Operation 'Halberd') she was hit by an aerial torpedo from an Italian aircraft south of Sardinia on 27 September. This hit on the port side just forward of 'A turret, i.e., in the same area as her earlier mine damage. Some 3,700 tons of water flooded into the holed ship, putting her down by the bows by eleven feet. The damage was extensive and required repairs at Malta then at Rosyth. She did not return to active service until April 1942, when she rejoined the Home Fleet. Nelson remained in home waters until the end of May 1942 when she sailed to join the Eastern Fleet, but was recalled to the Home Fleet to cover a fresh attempt to resupply Malta. This was Operation 'Pedestal' 10-15 August, after which she returned to the Home Fleet, only to be transferred once more to Force H in October for the landings in North Africa (Operation Torch'), reaching Gibraltar on the 6th. She remained with Force H until October 1943, taking part in the invasion of Sicily (Operation 'Husky') in July 1943 as a unit of the covering force, and on 31 August bombarded targets around Reggio di Calabria and Pellaro (Operation 'Hammer') in preparation for the British landings in Calabria. For the landings at Salerno (Operation 'Avalanche') on 9 September, Nelson was a unit of the Support Force but by the 29th had returned to Malta where the Italian surrender was signed aboard her. She remained in the Mediterranean until the following month, after which she left to rejoin the Home Fleet again, taking part in the Normandy landings as part of the reserve force for the Western Task Force, later making twenty bombardments of shore batteries and troop concentrations 11-18 June 1944. On the latter date, however, she was damaged by a mine and withdrawn for refit and repair, sailing for Philadelphia, Pa., on 22 June. This refit lasted until January 1945, after which she rejoined the Home Fleet for work-up, having been ordered to the Eastern Fleet. In April 1945 Nelson sailed for Colombo to join the East Indies Fleet (ex-Eastern Fleet), where she arrived on 9 July to relieve Queen Elizabeth as Flagship. She covered minesweeping operations off Phuket Island in the Kra Isthmus 24 and 26 July and shelled shore installations. On 2 September she received the surrender of Japanese forces in the Penang area and that of their forces in South-East Asia at Singapore on 12 September before being relieved by Howe on the 20th and sailing for home. She arrived at Portsmouth on 17 November 1945 and recommissioned to relieve Rodney as Flagship, Home Fleet, on 24 November. Post-war she remained with the Home Fleet as Flagship until April 1946, after which she was employed as a sea-going training ship. Her place in the training squadron was taken by Victorious in 1947, whereupon the battleship reduced to reserve on 20 October of that year. On 19 May 1948 Nelson was placed on the disposal list and allocated for ship target trials. From 4 June to 23 September 1948 she was employed for bombing tests (Operation 'Bronte') and subject to dive-bombing by FAA Barracuda aircraft. After completion of these trials, she was handed over to BISCO on 5 January 1949 and allocated to T. W. Ward & Co. for scrapping, arriving at Inverkeithing for breaking up on 15 March of that year. The hull was finished at Troon.

Nelson prewar
Nelson prewar
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Nelson prewar
Nelson prewar
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Nelson prewar
Nelson prewar
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Nelson prewar
Nelson prewar
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Nelson, good detail of 6in and AA guns
Nelson, good detail of 6in and AA guns
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