HMS Warspite off Normandy on D-Day

With a tug in attendance, HMS Warspite's 15-inch guns pound German positions in Normandy in June 1944. The battleship had left Greenock on June 2 1944 and together with the battleship HMS Ramillies, the 15-inch gun monitor HMS Roberts, cruisers Mauritius, Arethusa, Danae, Dragon and Frobisher plus destroyers, made up the Eastern Task Force. Late on the evening of D-Day, on June 5, Warspite pulled back from SWORD Sector where her big guns had been banging away all day, and dropped anchor a few miles off shore. The following day Warspite fired for effect at grid references where it was thought likely enemy troops, vehicles and guns might be. German strongpoints also received attention. Having then fired more than 300 shells in just two days, the battleship's magazines were low, so she retired across the Channel to Portsmouth to load up with more ammunition. When she returned on June 9, she was ordered to support the American beaches where the troops were hard pressed and the US Navy's bombardment vessels, including the battleship USS Arkansas, were running short of shells. Between 16.12hrs and 18.15hrs, ninety-six rounds of 15-inch were fired, without the aid of aircraft spotters or forward observers. Warspite devastated a crucial enemy artillery position and was highly praised in a signal from American commanders. Two days later she was off GOLD beach and helped save the 50th Division from a formidable counter-attack by destroying German troops and tanks assembling in a wood. With all the D-Day bombardments, Warspite's big guns were getting worn out, so on June 12 she was ordered to Rosyth to get replacement barrels. By now, age and battle damage were catching up with the Grand Old Lady. She had set sail to take part in the D-Day invasion with her X turret permanently out of action and with a huge caisson moulded over the large hole in her hull made by the glider bomb explosion at Crete.