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HMS King George V

King George V Class BB

King George V in 1940
King George V in 1940
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The first ship to complete in the class was King George V, joining the 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet at Scapa on 2 December 1940, remaining there until May 1943 - as Flagship from 1 April 1941. During this period she covered the Lofoten raid in March 1941, then acted as cover for North Atlantic convoys while the main period of activity of the German surface raiders was on. She was involved in the hunt for Bismarck in May 1941 and in the final action against that ship, in company with Rodney, fired 339 rounds of 14in and 660 of 5.25in. In November 1941 she was ordered to the south of Iceland in anticipation of the breakout of a German raider, but the sortie, by Admiral Scheer, was cancelled. She was covering the carrier Victorious in February 1942 on a raid against shipping at Tromso when ordered to intercept the German cruisers Admiral Scheer and Prinz Eugen which were en route to Norway, but failed to make contact. The following month she started to cover Russian convoys, beginning with PQ12 and in the next few months also covered PQ14 and PQ15, but in the course of the latter she rammed the destroyer Punjabi in fog east of Iceland on 1 May, sinking her and sustaining damage from the destroyer's depth-charges. King George V was relieved as Flagship by her sister ship Duke of York and sailed for repairs at Liverpool. These extended from May to July when she rejoined the fleet at Scapa on 11 July to resume duty as Flagship. Russian convoy cover continued to be her main task, but for PQ18 she remained at Scapa to control the operation. She did go to sea to cover JW52/RA52 in February-March followed by JW53 in March-April, but in May 1943 she was ordered to join Force H at Gibraltar in preparation for the invasion of Sicily. During this operation she covered the eastward movements of the assault convoys and provided diversionary bombardments, shelling Marsala and Trapani on 10-11 July. In August she was ordered to remain in the area in preparation for the Salerno landings. During these, as part of Force H she was held in reserve at Augusta, but after the Italian collapse she participated in the seizure of Taranto on 10 September. That same day she escorted units of the surrendered Italian battle fleet to Malta and on 14-16 September escorted them to Alexandria. At the beginning of October King George V sailed to rejoin the Home Fleet. There were no operations of note until February 1944, when she was ordered to refit at Cammell Laird in preparation for transfer to the Eastern Fleet. This refit lasted until July 1944, when, after working-up, she sailed for Ceylon on 28 October 1944. Passing through the Mediterranean en-route, she bombarded the enemy-held island of Milos on 15 November, and arrived at Trincomalee on 15 December, where she joined the newly formed British Pacific Fleet. On 19 January 1945 she sailed with the BPF (TF63) for Sydney, taking part in a carrier raid on Palembang on 24 and 29 January en route. At Sydney King George V assumed the role of Flag, Seagoing Command, and sailed for the operational area to join the US 5th Fleet in the operations against Okinawa on 28 February. As part of TF57, she began operations against the Japanese on 26 March, attacking the Sakashimo Gunto Islands and Formosa as part of the Okinawa campaign. During bombardments of the airfield on Mijako Shima Island on 4 May, in company with Howe, a total of 185 rounds of 14in and 378 rounds of 5.25in were fired. On 27 May the 5th Fleet became the 3rd Fleet and TF57 became TF37. July and August saw her engaged in bombarding targets on mainland Japan, having the distinction of being the last British capital ship to fire her guns in anger. A total of 277 rounds of 14in were fired at engineering works north of Tokyo on 17 July and another 265 at industrial areas south of Tokyo on 29 July, after which she was present at the signing of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. On her relief by Anson in October, she sailed for Australia and underwent a refit in Sydney until December. She returned to England in March 1946, relieving Nelson as Fleet Flagship on 9 April. In December she was relieved in turn by Duke of York and went into refit at Devonport until November 1947. In May 1948 King George V joined the Home Fleet Training Squadron at Portland until September 1949, when she reduced to reserve and laid up in the Gairloch. She was placed on the disposal list on 30 April 1957 and sold to Arnott Young Ltd. for breaking up in January 1958. Towed from her moorings on 8 January, she arrived at Dalmuir for scrapping on 20 January, the hull being transferred to Troon for finishing in December that year.

King George V firing on Bismarck
King George V firing on Bismarck
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King George V
King George V
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impressive pic of King George V
impressive pic of King George V
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King George V
King George V
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off Japan, 16 August 1945. 80G-455703
off Japan, 16 August 1945. 80G-455703
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