Squadron at sea
Battle Squadron at sea consisting of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Barham and Valiant

March 18th 1941
Leave Scapa to hunt two German Battle Cruisers trying to get back to Germany after operating in Atlantic, they are the "Scharnhorst" and "Gneusea". No sign of them on 18th or 19th. We are at present searching at a point between Icesland and Greenland. 20th — signal from Admirality states — HMS Ark Royal and HMS Renown are on the trail of the enemy and are 160 miles to the south of them. The position of the enemy is 900 miles south of us, us being QE and HMS Hood, we set our speed to 20 knots and head south. The enemy are also steaming at 20 knots north and are being shadowed by the "Ark’s" planes. We should be in contact with enemy in less than a day. 21st — Disappointment. The enemy has eluded us aided by bad visability. 23rd — Enemy is reported to be taking refuge in Brest. We leave it to the RAF. We are back in dear old Scapa again.

HMS Queen Elizabeth HMS Queen Elizabeth

2rd — Leave Scapa to pick up important convoy in Halifax, Canada. Two thirds of the way over and alter course to south as the Admiralty believes enemy ships in Brest are going to make a break for Germany again. Pick up HMS Repulse and proceed together toward a point of Brest.

April 8th — Repulse leaves us and heads for Gib. 10th — oil fuel running short. We are at present making circles somewhere in South Atlantic awaiting enemy movements. 11th — Leave for nearest port which is Gibraltar. 14th — Arrive at the Rock, re-fuel and re-ammunition. 15th — Leave Gib for Freetown, West Africa. 21st — Arrive Freetown, helluva hot. 24th — Leave Freetown. 30th — Back in Gib again.

3rd — Leave Gib for eastern Med, with HMS Ark Royal, Repulse. Have five important transports with us. 5th — Are preparing for possible air attack as we are nearing southern Sardinia and Scicily, well known danger area. 8th — Pick up more warships sent to help us through "Narrows", the narrows being a part where we pass within five miles of enemy coast. Our force now cinsists of HMS Ark Royal, Repulse, Barham, Warspite and Valiant, our escort consists of about 20 Destroyers and Cruisers.

9th — Are attacked by eight torpedo carrying planes, most of the torpedos aimed at the Ark, all miss. Later attacked by Bombers. We shoot a couple down. Attacks go on all day. Same night, the QE is singled out and attacked by one torpedo plane. Torpedo misses the ships side of stern by a few feet. The Italian news next claims a direct hit on us. Also claims to hit the Ark, in fact later claims to have destroyed half of our force. We had a good laugh while listening.

Life on board
"Yours truly and some of the boys"

10th — Looks like the enemy don’t want us to get through. The day starts off with more determined attacks. During the second attack the Ark and Repulse about turn and head back for Gib again. We still making east on the night of the 10th. Plane drops a mine on our course and with a bit of bad luck our biggest transport smacks it. She takes about three or four hours to go down.

11th — The enemy have packed up their attacks as we are now well past the foot of Italy. Their attacks cost them 16 bombers. "Nice catch!"

14th — Arrive at our destination — Alexandria, Egypt. 17th — Are now patrolling off Crete to ward off any attempt made by the enemy to ship troops across to Crete where a very fierce battle is in progress. Visited by dive bombers again. We don’t mind. We’re used to it by now. Or are we? 24th — Back in Alex after being relieved by Warspite and Valiant which are damaged by bombs later. The aircraft carrier "Formidable" which was out with us at Crete received a direct hit on the bows with a 1000 lb bomb. In the same attack the destroyer "Nubian" is hit astern. We, the QE, as usual escape damage.

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (1999-2018 v.3.0) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.