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The Eternally Stubborn Grand Old Lady

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Hey guys, it's me again, the WoWS hater who still loves naval history and today I wanted to talk about a warship that characterized everything good about its home country: HMS Warspite.


This battleship of the Queen Elizabeth-class epitomized the characteristic stiff upper lip of the British Empire and like its home country, was willing to keep on going no matter how much it was beaten into submission. Warspite was laid down in 1912 and commissioned in March of 1915 to serve as the most advanced British battleship of World War I. She soon cut her teeth in the Battle of Jutland, the largest surface gunnery clash in history by the displacement of the ships involved. Warspite managed to score the first hits on the German Battlecruiser Von der Tann but soon had her rudder jammed in the heat of the battle making her a very easy and tempting target. She was hit a total of 13 times taking out all but one of her main turrets and when her steering issues were corrected, she found herself on a course directly towards the German battleline. Warspite's captain decided to immediately cut power to the engines and come to a full stop so repairs could be made, which in my mind is a completely [DELETED] insane maneuver that only serves to make you an easier target. However, Warspite managed to get away safely so I guess it's not bad? Nevertheless Warspite took 150 armor penetrations during the course of the battle which leaves me wondering HOW IN THE UNHOLY [DELETED] WAS THAT THING STILL FLOATING?!!!

While retiring to port, with about 150 holes in her hull, Warspite managed to evade attack from a German U-boat and even unsuccessfully tried to ram another U-boat. Did I mention that she still had 150 holes in her hull at this point? Because I believe it's worth repeating! Warspite managed to make it back to port... somehow... and was fully repaired over the course of the next two months but the rudder damage was so bad that Warspite would be plagued with steering problems for the rest of her career. Given that she had already accidentally rammed friendly ships during maneuvers on several occasions and would continue to accidentally ram friendlys in the future, it's easy to see her as a little clumsy but given her combat record, I don't think the crew ever let that get to them. Warspite would spend the next few years hugging the docks and getting extensive modernizations until she finally got to see her second piece of action at the Second Battle of Narvik in 1940 when she attacked a german U-boat and destroyer anchorage in occupied Norway. She kicked things off by launching her Fairey Swordfish biplane, an aircraft which many of you might be familiar with, and bombing U-64 thus becoming the first aircraft to sink a U-boat during WWII and making Warspite the only battleship to sink a U-boat, possibly even submarine, throughout the course of the war. The Swordfish then proceeded to provide vital gunnery-spotting information which was arguably even more decisive than Warspite's guns in completely annihilating the anchorage.

That's right ladies and gentlemen, a battleship topping the scoreboard on spotting damage! Try doing something that ballsy in-game next time you play it!

Warspite's next piece of action was at the Battle of Calabria where she scored one of the longest surface gunnery hits in history against the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare the other being the German Battleship Scharnhorst against HMS Glorious at about the same range. Yamato against USS White Plains doesn't count! Warspite later provided a diversion for the carrier raid on Taranto but her next real piece of glory came from the Battle of Cape Matapan. The heavy cruiser Pola had been crippled by air attacks and her sister ships Zara and Fiume had been sent to tow her back to port. It was then during the night that Warspite along with her sister ships Valiant and Barham closed in and gave the Italian Navy a cold hard lesson in the fact that night combat was actually a thing at the cost of only three of their precious heavy cruisers. Later on, she was used as a floating anti-aircraft battery during the invasion of Crete and received a nasty bomb hit forcing her across the Pacific to the west coast of the United States for repairs.

Okay first off, I have to commend her brass ones for sailing across waters that were very politically touchy at that time while heavily damaged and practically on her lonesome and secondly, wasn't the US supposed to be neutral then?

Well... it didn't matter anyways since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor while she was still undergoing repairs and she later took some part in the defense of the Indian Ocean for whatever it was worth. She did provide a feint to distract the Japanese away from the American landings at Guadalcanal though! She soon returned to Mediterranean and provided vital fire support for the invasions of Sicily and Italy and even oversaw the surrender of the Italian fleet. Unfortunately, she was taken out of the fight when German bombers hit her with a Fritz X guided bomb. It took an absolutely herculean effort to get her back to Britain with all but one of the tow lines breaking and even then, the repairmen couldn't fix one of her turrets and they also had to fill in one of her boiler rooms with concrete reducing her speed to 15 knots. At this point, it was becoming clear that the ship was entering the end of her service life. I mean, she didn't have enough guns for a proper broadside, her speed was absolutely pitiful even by WWI standards and by this point it was becoming clear that it was high time for the Grand Old Lady to exit the...

... HAHA NOPE!!!! She was still supporting the landings at Normandy! She even continued to provide fire support all the way up the north coast of Western Europe finally firing her guns for the last time on November 1, 1944.

By war's end it was pretty clear that Warspite had actually reached the end of her service life and despite some proposals to preserve her as a museum ship, the Admiralty ordered her scrapped in July of 1946. She was then solemnly towed from Portsmouth to Faslane to reach the final destination for this old and weathered warrior. She then yelled, "BUGGER THAT FOR A BOX OF CHIPS!" and stomped on the tow chain, breaking it, and drifted off to nearby Prussia Cove where she ran aground and stubbornly sat waiting for the next fool to drag her away.[citation needed] In 1950, a couple of fools did and despite having help from 24 compressors, they failed with one of their salvage tugs running aground and another getting 60 ft of wire wrapped around its propeller. The best the salvage team could do was get the Warspite even closer to shore where the scrapping teams immediately got to work chopping her up until all that was left were both of her arms still posing with the archer's V[citation needed] and even those disappeared from view in summer of 1955 in what the salvage workers later admitted was the most difficult salvage operation in all of British history. Thus ended the long career of the most characteristically stubborn battleship of the Royal Navy, who even though her motto was to "Despise the hard knocks of war," still showed that she was more than willing to live with them and keep on trucking.

Edited by Eboreg2
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2,734 battles

If you ever visit Bremerton, WA, there's a plaque on the boardwalk near the ferry terminal in honor of Warspite's American refit. Some of the churches in the area note how their congregations support her crew.

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