World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

HMS Barham (04)

Barham underway at slow speed, mid-1930s
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Barham
Namesake: Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank
Cost: £2,470,113
Yard number: 424
Laid down: 24 February 1913
Launched: 31 December 1914
Commissioned: 19 October 1915
Identification: Pennant number: 04
Fate: Sunk by U-331, 25 November 1941
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: Queen Elizabeth-class battleship
  • 32,590 long tons (33,110 t)
  • 33,260 long tons (33,790 t) (Deep load)
Length: 643 ft 9 in (196.2 m)
Beam: 90 ft 7 in (27.6 m)
Draught: 33 ft (10.1 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,260 km; 5,750 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 1,016 (1916)

HMS Barham was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy named after Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham, built at the John Brown shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland, and launched in 1914. She was sunk during the Second World War on 25 November 1941 by the German submarine U-331.


  • Design and description 1
    • Major alterations 1.1
  • Construction and service 2
    • First World War 2.1
      • Battle of Jutland 2.1.1
    • Between the wars 2.2
    • Second World War 2.3
  • Sinking 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Film of the sinking 5
  • Notes 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Design and description

The Queen Elizabeth-class ships were designed to form a fast squadron for the fleet that was intended to operate against the leading ships of the opposing battleline. This required maximum offensive power and a speed several knots faster than any other battleship to allow them to defeat any type of ship.[1][2]

Barham had a length overall of 643 feet 9 inches (196.2 m), a beam of 90 feet 7 inches (27.6 m) and a deep draught of 33 feet (10.1 m). She had a normal displacement of 32,590 long tons (33,110 t) and displaced 33,260 long tons (33,794 t) at deep load. She was powered by two sets of Brown-Curtis steam turbines, each driving two shafts, using steam from 24 Yarrow boilers. The turbines were rated at 56,000 shp (42,000 kW) and intended to reach a maximum speed of 25 knots (46.3 km/h; 28.8 mph). During her sea trials on 6 July 1916, the ship only reached a top speed of 24.22 knots (44.86 km/h; 27.87 mph). Barham had a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km; 5,754 mi) at a cruising speed of 12 knots (22.2 km/h; 13.8 mph). Her crew numbered 1,016 officers and enlisted men in 1916.[3]

The Queen Elizabeth class was equipped with eight breech-loading (BL) 15-inch (381 mm) Mk I guns in four twin gun turrets, in two superfiring pairs fore and aft of the superstructure, designated 'A', 'B', 'X', and 'Y' from front to rear. Twelve of the fourteen BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XII guns were mounted in casemates along the broadside of the vessel amidships; the remaining pair were mounted on the forecastle deck near the aft funnel and were protected by gun shields. Their anti-aircraft (AA) armament consisted of two quick-firing (QF) 3-inch (76 mm) 20 cwt Mk I[Note 1] guns. The ships were fitted with four submerged 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, two on each broadside.[4]

Barham was completed with two fire-control directors fitted with 15-foot (4.6 m) rangefinders. One was mounted above the conning tower, protected by an armoured hood, and the other was in the spotting top above the tripod foremast. Each turret was also fitted with a 15-foot rangefinder. The main armament could be controlled by 'B' turret as well. The secondary armament was primarily controlled by directors mounted on each side of the compass platform on the foremast once they were fitted in July 1917.[5]

The waterline belt of the Queen Elizabeth class consisted of Krupp cemented armour (KC) that was 13 inches (330 mm) thick over the ships' vitals. The gun turrets were protected by 11 to 13 inches (279 to 330 mm) of KC armour and were supported by barbettes 7–10 inches (178–254 mm) thick. The ships had multiple armoured decks that ranged from 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm) in thickness. The main conning tower was protected by 13 inches of armour. After the Battle of Jutland, 1 inch of high-tensile steel was added to the main deck over the magazines and additional anti-flash equipment was added in the magazines.[6]

The ship was fitted with flying-off platforms mounted on the roofs of 'B' and 'X' turrets in 1918, from which fighters and reconnaissance aircraft could launch. During her early 1930s refit, the platforms were removed from the turrets and an extending Type EIT catapult was installed on the roof of 'X' turret, along with a crane to recover a floatplane. This was initially a Fairey IIIF until it was replaced by a Fairey Swordfish in 1938.[7]

Major alterations

Barham received a series of minor refits during the 1920s. In 1921–22 30-foot (9.1 m) rangefinders replaced the smaller ones in 'B' and 'X' turrets.[8] Two years later her anti-aircraft defences were upgraded when the original three-inch AA guns were replaced with a pair of QF four-inch (102 mm) Mk V AA guns between November 1924 and January 1925 and another pair of four-inch AA guns was added later that year in October–November. To control these guns a temporary High-Angle Control Position was added above the torpedo control tower aft. This was replaced by a torpedo rangefinder in early 1928 when the permanent position was installed in the remodelled spotting top.[9]

The ship was extensively refitted between January 1931 and January 1934 at a cost of £424,000. During this refit, the aft superstructure was rebuilt and the torpedo control-tower and its rangefinder were removed, together with the aft set of torpedo tubes. The fore funnel was trunked into the aft funnel to reduce smoke in the spotting top. A High-Angle Control System (HACS) Mk I director were added to the roof of the spotting top and the mainmast was reconstructed as a tripod to support the weight of a second HACS director. A pair of octuple mounts for two-pounder Mk VIII "pom-pom" anti-aircraft guns were added abreast the funnel and two positions for their directors were added on new platforms abreast and below the spotting top. In addition, a pair of quadruple mounts for Vickers .50 machine guns were added abreast the conning tower.[10]

The turret roofs were reinforced to a thickness of 5 inches (127 mm) and the high-tensile armour added over the magazines after Jutland was replaced by 4 inches of Krupp non-cemented armour, the first British battleship to receive such. In addition, the rear of the six-inch gun casemates was enclosed by a 1.5-inch (38 mm) bulkhead. Underwater protection improved by the addition of anti-torpedo bulges. They were designed to reduce the effect of torpedo detonations and improve stability[11] at the cost of widening the ship's beam by almost 14 feet (4.3 m). They increased her beam to 104 feet (31.7 m),[12] and reduced her draught to 32 feet 6 inches (9.9 m) which increased her metacentric height to about 7 feet (2.1 m) at deep load, despite the increase in her deep displacement to 35,970 long tons (36,550 t)[13] The bulges did, however, reduce her speed to about 23.6 knots (43.7 km/h; 27.2 mph).[14]

Construction and service

The Queen Elizabeth class was ordered as part of the 1912 Naval Programme and the contract for Barham was awarded to John Brown & Company.[15] The ship, named after Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham,[16] was laid down at their Clydebank shipyard on 24 February 1913 and launched on 31 December 1914.[17][Note 2] She was completed for trials on 19 August 1915 which took until the end of September to finish. The following day, 1 October, Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the 5th Battle Squadron, hoisted his flag aboard his new flagship.[19]

First World War

Barham joined the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow the next day and participated in a fleet training operation west of Orkney during 2–5 November.[20] During another training exercise in early December, the ship was accidentally rammed by her sister ship Warspite on 3 December. After temporary repairs at Scapa, Barham was sent to Cromarty Firth for more permanent repairs in the floating dock there that lasted until 23 December.[21]

The Grand Fleet departed for a cruise in the North Sea on 26 February 1916; Jellicoe had intended to use the Harwich Force to sweep the Heligoland Bight, but bad weather prevented operations in the southern North Sea. As a result, the operation was confined to the northern end of the sea. Another sweep began on 6 March, but had to be abandoned the following day as the weather grew too severe for the escorting destroyers. On the night of 25 March, Barham and the rest of the fleet sailed from Scapa Flow to support Beatty's battlecruisers and other light forces raiding the German Zeppelin base at Tondern. By the time the Grand Fleet approached the area on 26 March, the British and German forces had already disengaged and a strong gale threatened the light craft, so the fleet was ordered to return to base. On 21 April, the Grand Fleet conducted a demonstration off Horns Reef to distract the Germans while the Russian Navy relaid its defensive minefields in the Baltic Sea. The fleet returned to Scapa Flow on 24 April and refuelled before proceeding south in response to intelligence reports that the Germans were about to launch a raid on Lowestoft. The 5th Battle Squadron preceded the rest of the Grand Fleet to reinforce Vice-Admiral David Beatty's battlecruiser fleet, but the British arrived in the area after the Germans had withdrawn. On 2–4 May, the fleet conducted another demonstration off Horns Reef to keep German attention focused on the North Sea.[22] On 21 May, the 5th Battle Squadron was attached to Beatty while his 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron was detached for gunnery training and arrived at Rosyth the following day.[23]

Battle of Jutland

The British fleet sailed from northern Britain to the east while the Germans sailed from Germany in the south; the opposing fleets met off the Danish coast
Maps showing the manoeuvres of the British (blue) and German (red) fleets on 31 May – 1 June 1916

In an attempt to lure out and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, the German High Seas Fleet, composed of 16 dreadnoughts, 6 pre-dreadnoughts, 6 light cruisers, and 31 torpedo boats, departed the Jade early on the morning of 31 May. The fleet sailed in concert with Rear Admiral Franz von Hipper's five battlecruisers and supporting cruisers and torpedo boats. The Royal Navy's Room 40 had intercepted and decrypted German radio traffic containing plans of the operation. The Admiralty ordered the Grand Fleet, totalling some 28 dreadnoughts and 9 battlecruisers, to sortie the night before to cut off and destroy the High Seas Fleet.[24] Barham slipped her mooring at 22:08 and was followed by the rest of Beatty's ships.[25][Note 3]

When dawn broke Beatty ordered his forces into cruising formation with the 5th Battle Squadron trailing his battle cruisers by five nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi). At 14:15, Beatty ordered a turn north by east to rendezvous with the Grand Fleet. Shortly before the turn, one of his escorting light cruisers, Galatea spotted smoke on the horizon and continued on her course to investigate. Ten minutes later, the ship radioed "Two cruisers, probably hostile, in sight..." They were actually two German destroyers that had stopped to check a Danish merchant ship's papers. At 14:32 Beatty ordered a course change to south-southeast in response to the spot report. Barham‍ '​s signallers were unable to read the signal and her officer of the watch presumed that it was the expected point zigzag to the left of the base course and signalled that course change to the rest of the squadron. After several minutes it became apparent that the squadron was not conforming to Beatty's other ships, but Evan-Thomas refused to change course until clear instructions had been received despite entreaties from the Barham‍ '​s captain. While the exact time when Evan-Thomas ordered his ships to turn to follow Beatty is not known, the consensus is that it was about seven minutes later, which increased his distance from Beatty to nothing less than ten nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi).[26][Note 4]

Hipper's battlecruisers spotted the Battlecruiser Fleet to their west at 15:20, but Beatty's ships did not see the Germans to their east until 15:30. Two minutes later, Beatty ordered a course change to east-southeast, positioning the British ships to cut off the German's line of retreat, and signalled action stations. Hipper ordered his ships to turn to starboard, away from the British, to assume a south-easterly course, and reduced speed to 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) to allow three light cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group to catch up. With this turn, Hipper was falling back on the High Seas Fleet, 60 miles (97 km) behind him. Beatty then altered course to the east, as he was still too far north to cut Hipper off.[28] This was later characterised as the "Run to the South" as Beatty changed course to steer east-southeast at 15:45, now paralleling Hipper's course less than 18,000 yards (16,000 m) away. By this time the 5th Battle Squadron was about seven point five nautical miles (13.9 km; 8.6 mi) northwest of Beatty. The Germans opened fire first at 15:48, followed by the British battlecruisers.[29]

The light cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group were the first German ships visible to Evan-Thomas's ships and Barham opened fire on them at 15:58 until the cruisers disappeared into their own smoke screen at around 16:05.[30] About three minutes later, the ship opened fire on the battlecruiser SMS von der Tann at a range of about 23,000 yards (21,000 m).[31] A minute later she scored one hit on the German ship's stern before she was ordered to switch targets to the battlecruiser SMS Moltke, together with her sister ship Valiant. The shell struck just below the waterline and burst on impact with the belt armour. The impact was right on the joints between several armour plates and drove them inwards and destroyed part of the hull behind them. The damage allowed over 1,000 long tons (1,000 t) of water to flood the stern and nearly knocked out the ship's steering gear. Between them, Barham and Valiant hit Moltke four times from 16:16 to 16:26, but only one of those hits can be attributed to Valiant. Two of the others detonated upon striking the waterline armour, but failed to penetrate. The impacts drove in the plates and fragments caused much flooding by damaging the surrounding structure. The last shell passed all the way through the ship with out detonating; it struck and dislodged a 100-millimetre (3.9 in) armour plate on the waterline on the other side of the ship that caused also some flooding. Barham was herself was struck twice during the "Run to the South": the first was a 28.3-centimetre (11 in) shell from von der Tann that failed to do any damage when it hit the waterline armour and the battlecruiser SMS Lützow fired a 30.5-centimetre (12 in) shell that detonated in the aft superstructure. This sent splinters in every direction and started a small fire, but otherwise did no significant damage.[32]

At 16:30, the light cruiser Southampton, scouting in front of Beatty's ships, spotted the lead elements of the High Seas Fleet coming north at top speed. Three minutes later, she sighted the topmasts of Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer's battleships, but did not report this for another five minutes. Beatty continued south for another two minutes to confirm the sighting before ordering his force to turn north, towards the Grand Fleet in what came to be known as the "Run to the North".[33] His order only applied to his own forces; the 5th Battle Squadron continued south until after it passed Beatty heading northwestwards at 16:51. Beatty then ordered Evan-Thomas to turn his ships in succession to follow the battlecruisers three minutes later. This meant that they were some 4,000 yards (3,700 m) closer to the rapidly advancing High Sea Fleet. And now within range of the battleships of the 3rd Squadron which opened fire on the 5th Battle Squadron as they made their turn.[Note 5]

Evan-Thomas continued his turn until his ships were steering due north, which interposed the 5th Battle Squadron between Scheer's battlecruisers,[35] which had reversed course around 16:48 to follow Beatty north,[36] and Beatty's ships. While making the turn,[37] Barham was struck by two 30.5-centimetre shells beginning at 16:58, probably from the battlecruiser SMS Derfflinger. The first of these struck the ship's upper deck before detonating upon striking the main deck above the medical store compartment, which was completely burnt out. The detonation blew a 7-by-7-foot (2.1 by 2.1 m) hole in the main deck, sent fragments through the middle and lower decks and burn out the casemate for starboard No. 2 six-inch gun. Three minutes later another shell hit the aft superstructure, severing the antenna cables of the main wireless station. One fragment ricocheted off the upper deck and through the side plating on the opposite side of the ship.[38] Either the first or the fourth of these shells destroyed the ship's sickbay, killing the staff and all of its patients, including eight ship's boys.[39] Barham returned fire at the battlecruisers at 17:02, together with Valiant, the two northernmost of Evan-Thomas's ships, and the two of them made three hits on the battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz and Lützow between 17:06 and 17:13 while Barham was hit twice more by Derfflinger, although neither of them did any significant damage. In contrast, the hit on Lützow flooded a 15-centimetre (5.9 in) magazine and the hits on Seydlitz blew a 10-by-13-foot (3.0 by 4.0 m) hole in the side of her bow. Fragments from this hit caused flooding that spread throughout the bow, while the ship's speed caused water to enter directly though the hole in the side. Other fragments from the second hit caused damage that allowed the water to spread even further. These two hits were ultimately responsible for the massive flooding that nearly sank the ship after the battle. The third shell detonated on the face of the starboard wing turret, although some fragments entered the turret and caused minor damage.[40]

Beatty in the meantime had turned further west to open up the range between his battered battlecruisers and the Germans. At 17:45 he turned eastwards to take his position in front of the Grand Fleet and re-engage Hipper's ships. This meant that the 5th Battle Squadron and the light cruisers were the sole targets available for the German ships until after his turn, although the worsening visibility hampered both sides' shooting. Barham was not hit during this time and she and Valiant, later joined by their sister Warspite, continued to fire at Hipper's 1st Scouting Group until 1802 when Valiant lost sight of the Germans. They hit Lützow, Derfflinger and Seydlitz three time each between 17:19 and about 18:05. Lützow was little bothered by these hits, which essentially only knocked out the primary and back-up wireless rooms while the shells that hit Derfflinger hit the side of the ship's bow, knocking off several armour plates, while fragments opened holes that ultimately allowed roughly 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons) of water to enter the bow. One of these hits also started several major fires inside the hull. The hits on Seydlitz mostly opened up more holes that facilitated the flooding.[41]

Hipper turned his ships southward around 18:05 to fall back upon Scheer's advancing battleships and then reversed course five minutes later. Evan-Thomas turned northeast at around 18:06 and then made arced around to the southeast once he spotted the Grand Fleet. He first spotted the battleship Marlborough, flagship of the 6th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron and thought she was leading the Grand Fleet as it deployed from cruising formation into line ahead. At 18:17 he realized that Marlborough was actually at the rear of the information and he ordered a turn to the north to bring his squadron into trail behind the Grand Fleet. This took some time and his ships had to slow down to 12–18 knots (22–33 km/h; 14–21 mph) to avoid overrunning the division and blocking their fire. The 5th Battle Squadron concentrated their fire on the German battleships after losing sight of the battlecruisers, with Barham opening fire at 18:14. No hits were observed and the ships stopped firing after making their turn north, but Barham opened fire for a short time when they fell in line with the Grand Fleet a few minutes later, probably without making any hits.[42]

Barham fired 337 15-inch shells and 25 6-inch shells during the battle.[43] The number of hits cannot be confirmed, but it is believed that she and made 23 or 24 hits between them, making them two of the most accurate warships in the British fleet.[44] She received six hits during the battle, five from 12-inch shells and one from an 11-inch shell,[45] suffering casualties of 26 killed and 46 wounded.[46]

Following Jutland, Barham was under repair until 5 July 1916.[47] She was refitted at Cromarty between February and March 1917, being fitted with a pair of 12-pounder anti-aircraft guns that year, and was again refitted in February 1918.[47][48]

Between the wars

Barham became flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet in 1920, and joined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1924.[47] Among her captains was Percy Noble.[49] During the 1926 general strike she and Ramillies were sent to the River Mersey to land food supplies. Barham served with the Mediterranean fleet until 1929, rejoining the Atlantic Fleet in November 1929.[50]

Between January 1931 and January 1934, Barham underwent a major refit. On completion of this refit, Barham joined the Home Fleet, and rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet in August 1935.[50] While the other four ships of the Queen Elizabeth class were given a second, more extensive refit in the mid-to-late 1930s (which for Warspite, Valiant and Queen Elizabeth amounted to a compete reconstruction with new machinery and superstructures),[51] changes to Barham were relatively minor. Her single 4-inch anti-aircraft guns were replaced by four twin Mark XIX mountings for QF 4 inch Mk XVI naval guns and the remaining two torpedo tubes were removed.[52]

Second World War

Barham remained part of the Mediterranean Fleet at the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. On 12 December 1939, while sailing to join the Home Fleet, she collided with the destroyer HMS Duchess in thick fog nine miles west of the Mull of Kintyre. Duchess capsized and sank, killing 124 of her crew.[50][53][54]

Barham and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the destroyers Fame, Icarus, Imogen, Isis and Nubian were on patrol off the Butt of Lewis to protect against a possible break-out into the Atlantic by German surface warships when they were spotted by the German submarine U-30, commanded by Fritz-Julius Lemp, on 28 December 1939. Lemp fired four torpedoes at Barham and Repulse, and one struck Barham on her port side, adjacent to the shell rooms for A and B turrets. The anti-torpedo bulge was destroyed adjacent to the strike, with four men killed and two wounded. Despite the damage, Barham was able to proceed under her own power to Liverpool for repair.[50][55]

Barham in the Mediterranean.

She was under repair until April 1940,[50] and two more eight-barreled pom-pom mounts, additional quadruple .50 in machine gun mounts and an Unrotated Projectile (i.e. anti-aircraft rocket) launcher were added.[52]

In September 1940, she took part in Operation Menace, a British naval attack on Dakar, Senegal, prior to a planned landing by the Free French. Barham engaged French warships, including the battleship Richelieu, and shore batteries from 23 September. Barham was struck by 240 mm (9.4 in) and 155 mm (6.1 in) shells from shore defences on 24 September, while on 25 September Richelieu hit Barham with a single 380 mm (15 in) shell, although little damage was caused. The French submarine Bévéziers hit the battleship Resolution with a torpedo the same day, causing Operation Menace to be abandoned.[50][56] Barham towed the damaged Resolution to Freetown, Sierra Leone, for repair, before returning to Gibraltar.[54]

While in harbour at Gibraltar, on 21 October, she was slightly damaged by a manned torpedo attack launched by Italian frogmen from the Scirè. The two frogmen who crewed the human torpedo were subsequently captured.

In November 1940, Barham was assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, taking part in Operation Coat, one of a complex series of fleet movements in the Mediterranean, leaving for Gibraltar on 7 November and arriving on 11 December where she disembarked 750 troops and stores. (On the same day, in another part of the same series of operations, Swordfish torpedo-bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious attacked Taranto, damaging three Italian battleships.) Barham, together with a number of other reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet, then sailed for Alexandria, reaching there on 14 November.[57]

Barham escorted the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle on a strike against Tripoli on 26 November and together with HMS Malaya carried out shore bombardments in support of the army in eastern Libya in December.[58] On 3 December, Barham with Warspite and Valiant bombarded Bardia as a prelude to the Battle of Bardia.[59][60]

She covered a convoy to Malta later that month and took part in the escort of another in March.[54]

She took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and received bomb damage off Crete in May.

On 21 April 1941, under the command of Admiral Andrew Cunningham, Barham, with battleships Warspite and Valiant, the cruiser Gloucester and various destroyers, attacked Tripoli harbour.[61]


Main magazines exploding, 25 November 1941.

On 25 November 1941 at 4:25 p.m., while steaming to cover an attack on Italian convoys with Queen Elizabeth, Valiant and an escort of eight destroyers, Barham was hit by three torpedoes[62] from the German submarine U-331, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Diedrich von Tiesenhausen. Leading Telegraphist A.R. Bacon remained at his station following the first attack to alert accompanying ships of the presence of U-331, which greatly aided the search and rescue. The torpedoes were fired from a range of only 750 yards providing no time for evasive action, and struck so closely together as to throw up a single massive water column. As the ship rolled over to port, her magazines exploded and she quickly sank with the loss of more than two-thirds of the crew. Out of a crew of approximately 1,184 officers and men, 841 were killed. The survivors were rescued by the other British ships.


The Admiralty was immediately notified of the sinking. In an effort to conceal the sinking from the Germans and to protect British morale, the Admiralty censored all news of Barham‍ '​s destruction. After a delay of several weeks the War Office notified next of kin, but they added a special request for secrecy: the notification letters included a warning not to discuss the loss of the ship with anyone but close relatives, stating it was "most essential that information of the event which led to the loss of your husband's life should not find its way to the enemy until such time as it is announced officially..."[63]

Following repeated claims by German radio,[64] the Board of Admiralty officially announced the loss on 27 January 1942 and explained that

it was clear at that time that the enemy did not know that she had been sunk, and it was important to make certain dispositions before the loss of this ship was made public.[65]

U-boat captain Tiesenhausen was forced to dive to evade the escorting ships before Barham exploded, and heard only the detonation of the torpedo.[66] He could not be sure whether he had sunk Barham, or if she had merely been damaged and left the scene before he resurfaced.[66] It was not until the Admiralty's admission on 27 January 1942 that Barham had been sunk and described the circumstances that Tiesenhausen knew that he had sunk her.[66] He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross that day.[66]

A Royal Navy Court of Enquiry into the sinking ascribed the final magazine explosion to the detonation en masse of 4-inch anti-aircraft ammunition stored in wing passages adjacent to the main magazines, which would have detonated the contents of the main magazines. Experience of prolonged air attacks in earlier operations had shown that the stowage capacity of the AA magazines was inadequate, hence extra ammunition was shipped in any convenient void spaces.

Film of the sinking

The sinking was captured on film by Pathé cameraman John Turner, aboard HMS Valiant.[67] In consideration of public morale and to protect the families who had lost loved ones, the Admiralty decided to keep the film secret until the end of hostilities in 1945. The film has been used many times as stock footage in documentaries. It has also been used fictionally in films such as Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (as an American destroyer), Task Force (as a Japanese carrier), The Guns of Navarone, "Up Periscope" (as an Japanese destroyer) and The Battle of Okinawa (as Yamato). It featured in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover "Higher Ground".


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
  2. ^ Curiously, Gardiner & Gray, Silverstone, and Parkes all give a launch date of 31 October.[15][16][18]
  3. ^ The times used in this section are in UT, one hour behind CET, which is often used in German works.
  4. ^ Gordon devotes a whole chapter to this issue as the various accounts cannot be reconciled with the surviving records.[27]
  5. ^ This is another problematic issue in which sources differ to which Gordon devotes an entire chapter.[34]


  1. ^ Burt 1986, p. 251
  2. ^ Parkes, pp. 560–61
  3. ^ Burt 1986, pp. 255, 257–58, 261
  4. ^ Burt 1986, pp. 252–53, 256–57
  5. ^ Raven & Roberts, p. 20–21, 30
  6. ^ Raven & Roberts, pp. 21, 26
  7. ^ Raven & Roberts, pp. 30, 197, 203
  8. ^ Burt 1986, p. 263
  9. ^ Raven & Roberts, p. 137
  10. ^ Raven & Roberts, p. 197
  11. ^ Raven & Roberts, pp. 129, 197, 200
  12. ^ Chesneau, p. 7
  13. ^ Burt 1986, p. 265
  14. ^ Burt 2012, p. 89
  15. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 33
  16. ^ a b Silverstone, p. 216
  17. ^ Burt 1986, p. 256
  18. ^ Parkes, p. 562
  19. ^ Jones, pp. 19, 21
  20. ^ Jellicoe, pp. 249, 253
  21. ^ Jellicoe, pp. 257–58; Jones, pp. 26–29
  22. ^ Jellicoe, pp. 271, 275, 279–80, 284, 286–90
  23. ^ Gordon, pp. 48–49
  24. ^ Tarrant, pp. 54–55, 57–58
  25. ^ Gordon, p. 64
  26. ^ Gordon, p. 67, 74–77, 81–82, 85
  27. ^ Gordon, pp. 81–101
  28. ^ Tarrant, pp. 69, 71, 75
  29. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 34–35, 39
  30. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 43–46
  31. ^ Gordon, pp. 113–15
  32. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 49, 76–77, 85–90
  33. ^ Massie, pp. 598–600
  34. ^ Gordon, pp. 129–151
  35. ^ Gordon, pp. 404–07
  36. ^ Brook, p. 250
  37. ^ Gordon, pp. 143–44
  38. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 100, 126–29
  39. ^ Gordon, p. 410
  40. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 138–39
  41. ^ Campbell, pp. 101–02, 108–10, 115–16, 134–42
  42. ^ Campbell, pp. 147, 153, 158, 165
  43. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 346, 358
  44. ^ Campbell 1986, pp. 354–55
  45. ^ Campbell 1986, p. 349
  46. ^ Campbell 1986, p. 340
  47. ^ a b c Gardiner & Gray, p. 34
  48. ^ Whitley 2001, p. 95.
  49. ^ Sir Percy Lockhart Harnam (1880–1955), Admiral. King‍ '​s College London: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. Retrieved 11 November 2012
  50. ^ a b c d e f Whitley, p. 103
  51. ^ Chesneau, p. 8
  52. ^ a b Whitley, p. 100
  53. ^ English, p. 60
  54. ^ a b c Mason, Geoffrey B. (27 April 2011). "HMS BARHAM – Queen Elizabeth-class 15in gun Battleship". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War 2. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  55. ^ Blair 2000, p. 125.
  56. ^ Barnett 2000, pp. 204–205.
  57. ^ Rohwer and Hümmelchen 1992, pp. 40–41.
  58. ^ Rohwer and Hümmelchen 1992, pp. 44–45.
  59. ^ Rohwer and Hümmelchen 1992, p. 47.
  60. ^ Barnett 2000, p. 218.
  61. ^ Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance. p. 241.
  62. ^ "35,000 Tons Barham Sank In Under Five Minutes". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette ( 
  63. ^ Graeme Donald. (2009). Loose Cannons: 101 Things They Never Told You About Military History. Osprey Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 978-1846033773
  64. ^ "Nazi Radio Claims HMS Barham Sunk". Dundee Courier ( 
  65. ^ Yorkshire Evening Post ( 
  66. ^ a b c d Williamson. Knight's Cross Oak-Leaves Recipients 1941–45. pp. 10–11.  
  67. ^ Pathé News film of explosion and sinking


  • Burt, R. A. (2012). British Battleships, 1919–1939 (2nd ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Burt, R. A. (1986). British Battleships of World War One. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Barnett, Correlli (2000). Engage The Enemy More Closely. London: Penguin.  
  • Blair, Clay (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters 1939–1942. London: Cassell & Company.  
  • Brooks, John (2005). Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland. London:  
  • Campbell, John (1972). Queen Elizabeth Class. Warship Monographs 2. London: Conway Maritime Press.  
  • Campbell, N. J. M. (1986). Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980), Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946, Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press,  
  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society.  
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Gordon, Andrew (2012). The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Jones, Geoffrey P. (1979). Battleship Barham. London: William Kimber.  
  • Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Raven, Alan & Roberts, John (1976). British Battleships of World War Two: The Development and Technical History of the Royal Navy's Battleship and Battlecruisers from 1911 to 1946. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books.  
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1999). Jutland: The German Perspective: A New View of the Great Battle, 31 May 1916 (reprint of the 1995 ed.). London: Brockhampton Press.  
  • United Kingdom, Admiralty Historical Section (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean. Whitehall histories., Naval Staff histories. Vol. 2, November 1940–December 1941. London: Whitehall History in association with Frank Cass.  
  • Whitley, M. J. (1991). German Destroyers of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.  
  • Williamson, Gordon (2005). Knight's Cross Oak-Leaves Recipients 1941–45. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.  

External links

  • – Site of HMS
  • and its connection to the witchcraft trial of Helen DuncanHMS Barham magazine about the sinking of World War IIArticle in
  • Photo GalleryBarhamMaritimequest HMS
  • Captain Terry Herrick – Daily Telegraph obituary
  • IWM Interview with survivor George Elliott
  • IWM Interview with survivor Sidney Petherbridge
  • IWM Interview with survivor David Cox
  • IWM Interview with survivor Herbert Rawlings
  • IWM Interview with survivor John Laraway
  • IWM Interview with survivor James Pratt
  • IWM Interview with survivor Horace Cowley
  • IWM Interview with survivor Albert Pitman

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.