- HMS Revenge (06)
HMS "Revenge" (
pennant number06) was the lead shipof the "Revenge" class of battleships of the Royal Navy, the ninth to bear the name. She was launched during World War Iin 1915. Though the class is often referred to as the "Royal Sovereign" class, official documents of 1914–1918 refer to the class as the "Revenge" class. She was commissioned in 1916, just before the battle of Jutland. She was a truly gargantuan warship at the time, especially imposing when seen from her bow.
"Revenge" was present at the
battle of Jutland, where she was under the command of Captain E. B. Kiddle, and served in the powerful 1st Battle Squadron, second in line behind "Marlborough" flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney. During the ensuing battle, "Marlborough" was torpedoed, which forced Burney to transfer his flag to "Revenge". "Revenge" was engaged with the enemy for an hour and a half, suffering no casualties or battle damage.
The day before the
Grand Fleetdeparted their base to confront the surrendering German High Seas Fleetin Operation ZZ, a visit was made by senior members of the British Royal Family: King George V, Queen Mary and Edward, Prince of Wales. The King and his son visited USS "New York", HMS "Lion" (flagship of the Commander-in-Chief David Beatty), and "Revenge", flagship of the Second-in-Command. Queen Mary had tea in "Revenge".
In 1919, at
Scapa Flow, Admiral Ludwig von Reuterissued the order to the now interned German High Seas Fleetto scuttle the entire fleet of 74 ships to prevent their use by the victorious Allies. After the incident, von Reuter was brought to the quarterdeck of "Revenge", flagship of Admiral Freemantle and accused of breaching naval honour. Von Reuter replied to the accusation, "I am convinced that any English naval officer, placed as I was, would have acted in the same way." No charges were brought against him.
In January 1920, the 1st Battle Squadron was detached to the
Mediterraneandue to crises in the region. While in the area, "Revenge" supported Greek forces and remained in the Black Sea, due to concerns about the Russian Civil Waruntil July, when she returned to the British Atlantic Fleet.
In 1922, "Revenge", with her sister-ships "Ramillies", "Resolution" and "Royal Sovereign", was again sent to the
Mediterraneandue to further crises, in no small part due to the forced abdication of King Constantine I of Greece. "Revenge" was stationed at Constantinopleand the Dardanellesthroughout her deployment to that region. She rejoined the Atlantic Fleet the following year.
In 1928 she was paid off for refit at Devonport Dockyard. She was recommissioned after the refit in March 1929 into the
British Mediterranean Fleet. On 16 July 1935, "Revenge" was part of the Naval Review of 160 warships at Spithead in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of George V. Later in 1935 she was stationed at Alexandriadue to potential dangers posed by the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
In 1936 she was paid off for yet another refit. She was recommissioned a year later into the 2nd Battle Squadron of the immense
Grand Fleet. On 9 August 1939 she was part of another Fleet Review, Royal Navy that was observed by George VI. Though "Revenge" was now becoming rather antiquated and slow, she was still used in abundance throughout the war, being assigned to the North Atlantic Escort Force, together with her sister-ship "Resolution". On the day she was actually attached to the Force, on 5 October 1939, she departed home shores to head for Canada, carrying valuable gold bullion.
On 3 July 1940, "Revenge's" crew boarded the French battleship "Paris", submarines "Thames" and "Surcouf", and other French ships seized in British ports after the fall of France. During one stop in Halifax on
12 May 1940, she accidentally rammed and sank the Canadian Battle-class trawler HMCS "Ypres" although without loss of life. For the duration of the war that she served, whenever "Revenge" came to Halifax, the crews of other gate ships would make elaborate and exaggerated "Abandon Ship" manoeuvres in mockery of the old vessel. "Revenge" undertook further vital convoy duties throughout the rest of her involvement in World War II, including the escort of a convoy carrying the Australian Divisionback to their country in February 1943 to allow them to take part in the Pacifictheatre after Japanese successes in that region created a significant and very real threat to Australia herself.
In October that year, she was withdrawn from operational service due to her very poor condition, being reduced to Reserve status. Her initial service was as a stoker's training ship, though a memo
Winston Churchillremarked that the venerable battleshipshould be put to better use and so Churchill embarked aboard "Revenge", sailing to Maltaas a leg of the journey to the Tehran Conferencebeing held in Iran.
In May 1944, her main armament was removed to provide spare guns for the
battleships "Ramillies" and "Warspite", as well as monitors which were to be vital during the bombardment of the beaches of Normandyduring Operation Overlord. She spent the rest of the war as part of the stokers' training establishment HMS "Imperieuse".
On 8 March 1948, after so many years of dedicated service to the
Royal Navyand the nation's interests, she was placed on the disposal list, being sold for scrap four months later. Some of "Revenge's" gun turret rack and pinion gearing was reused in the 76 metre diameter Mark I radio telescopebuilt at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, in the mid-1950s.
Claude Choulesone of the last living British WWI Veterans, who served aboard HMS Revenge during the Great War.
* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/great_britain/battleships/revenge_1915/hms_revenge_1915.htm Maritimequest HMS Revenge Photo Gallery]
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