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HMS Rodney

Nelson Class BB

Rodney, mid 1942
Rodney, mid 1942
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Rodney commissioned for the 2nd Battle Squadron in December 1927, but it was to be another three months before she actually joined the fleet because of extended trials. At this time the fleet was still known as the Atlantic Fleet. In June 1930 she carried a parliamentary delegation to Iceland for the 1,000th anniversary of the Althing, the Icelandic Parliament. Rodney remained with the Atlantic and Home Fleets until the outbreak of war, assuming the role of Flagship when Nelson was unavailable. She was under refit at Portsmouth September-November 1938. In November 1939 she participated in the hunt for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau after their sinking of the AMC Rawalpindi, but developed defects and was under repair until the end of the year. Rodney relieved Warspite as Fleet Flagship and then took part in the Norwegian campaign from April to June 1940, being hit by a bomb which caused casualties but little material damage. In September she was ordered to Rosyth as an anti-invasion measure and, after the sinking of Jervis Bay in November, was sent to the Iceland-Faeroes gap as a precautionary measure. In 1941, when the two German battlecruisers were again attempting to break out into the Atlantic, Rodney was deployed in the hunt for them from the end of January, south of Iceland. Later she was deployed to cover Halifax and Freetown convoys while the German squadron was at sea and on 16 March while with convoy HX114 briefly sighted the German ships but was unable to get into action. Her presence, however, saved the convoy from trouble. At the time of the sortie by Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in May 1941, Rodney accompanied by destroyers was escorting the troopship Britannic outward bound from the UK. But a couple of hours after the loss of Hood, she was ordered to join the hunt for Bismarck and on the evening of 26 May joined the Flagship, King George V, south-west of Ireland. Action was joined with the crippled German Flagship in the forenoon of the 27th and by the time that the two British ships ceased fire, Rodney had fired 375 rounds of 16in, more than a third of her outfit, claiming at least forty hits. At one point she fired full nine-gun broadsides for ten minutes. She also fired her 24in torpedoes and a vast quantity of 6in ammunition. She was not hit herself, but the blast effects from her guns caused considerable damage. After this she was ordered to the USA for repair and refit at Boston Navy Yard which was completed in August. After the usual work-up, Rodney joined Force H at Gibraltar for Operation 'Halberd', forming part of the close cover, 24-30 September 1941. She took over the role of Flagship following the torpedoing of her sister and remained with Force H until relieved by Malaya in November, participating in the meantime in an operation to fly FAA torpedo-bombers to Malta from Ark Royal 14-19 October.

Rodney rejoined the Home Fleet and was based at Hvalfiord, Iceland from November 1941 to February 1942 to cover the entrances to the Atlantic against German raiders. In February she began a refit at Liverpool, returning to service in May, after which she was ordered to the Eastern Fleet, sailing on 31 May from the Clyde. She had just reached Freetown when she was recalled to cover a Malta convoy and then returned to Scapa, where she arrived on 26 July. Early in August she sailed once more and formed part of the cover for Operation 'Pedestal' 10-15 August. She returned to the Home Fleet until October 1942, when she was transferred to Force H for the landings in North Africa in November, during which she bombarded shore batteries and coastal forts. In May Rodney returned to Scapa to work-up for the Sicilian campaign, returned to Force H in June and sailed from Scapa on 17 of that month to cover the landings in Sicily. At the end of August she bombarded targets in Calabria in preparation for the landings (Operation 'Baytown'). In September she supported the landings at Salerno (Operation 'Avalanche') as Flagship. Force H.

In October 1943 Rodney left the Mediterranean to rejoin the Home Fleet, where she remained for the rest of the war. In June and July 1944, in support of the Normandy landings (Operation 'Overlord'), she was in action many times against shore batteries, troop and vehicle concentrations, and in August her heavy guns dealt with shore batteries on Alderney. She returned to the Home Fleet and for the remainder of the year provided distant cover for Arctic convoys, having been relieved as Fleet Flagship by Duke of York in September. By 1944 she was in fact practically worn out, having been in need of a refit at the start of the war and thereafter seeing hard service. She had been plagued with hull and machinery defects during war service but plans made to give her a major overhaul in 1943 were deferred and a modernisation scheme drawn up in 1944 was never carried out. So from November 1944 she was virtually a static Flagship at Scapa. In November 1945 she reduced to reserve at Rosyth until transferred to the Disposal list in 1948. In March 1948 she was handed over to BISCO for scrapping and allocated to T. W. Ward Ltd. for breaking up. She arrived at Inverkeithing on 26 March.

Rodney, Devonport July 1936
Rodney, Devonport July 1936
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Rodney prewar
Rodney prewar
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Rodney - probably Dday bombardment
Rodney - probably Dday bombardment
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Rodney firing at shore targets off Caen
Rodney firing at shore targets off Caen
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