As mentioned in Parish Notices last month, the RN’s latest edition to its fleet will be coming to Portsmouth this year, but it is not the first HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH to have served in the Royal Navy.
The original QUEEN ELIZABETH was the lead ship of the 15 inchgun ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class of Dreadnought battleships. The ship was launched on 16th October 1913 as the first RN warship to carry this name. Her Badge reflects the particular association with the Royal Family.
Build was completed on 22 December 1914 and she was deployed in the Mediterranean. While still undergoing testing, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was sent to the Dardanelles for the Allied attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The HMS Queen Elizabeth was the only modern battleship to participate, though a number of battlecruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships were also involved. She became the flagship for the preliminary naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, leading the first line of British battleships in the decisive battle of 18 March 1915. During the military invasion of the Gallipoli on 25 April, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was the flagship for General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
However, after the sinking of HMS Goliath by a Turkish torpedo boat on 12 May, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was immediately withdrawn to a safer position. She joined Admiral Hugh EvanThomas’s 5th Battle Squadron (consisting of Queen Elizabeth-class battleships) of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but she missed the Battle of Jutland because she was in dock for maintenance.
In 1937 she was selected for an extended modernisation which began in August that year and was not completed until 1939. Her WW2 service was particularly well known as she was seriously damaged at Alexandria after explosive charges had been placed on her hull in an attack by two-man human torpedoes in December 1941. She then had an extensive period under repair and refit in a US Navy Dockyard Norfolk, Virginia before resuming Fleet service in the East Indies Fleet. She took part in many offensive operations against the Japanese bases in the Indian Ocean and in support of landing operations in Burma before return to UK before VJ Day. After brief service in the Home Fleet she was placed in Reserve at Portsmouth during 1946 and sold for demolition two years later.