Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Audacity Part II -- Second Battle of Narvik

British Audacity was on display again for the Second Battle of Narvik 70 years ago today when they sent a battleship deep inside of a Norwegian fjord to lead a task force to attack the German destroyers that survived the First Battle of Narvik on April 10.

Unlike the first battle, which saw an outnumbered British destroyer squadron attacking the more numerous and larger Germans, in this battle the weight of effort was clearly on the British side.

Leading the task force was the HMS Warspite, a modernized veteran of the World War I Battle of Jutland with eight 15-inch guns. Accompanying it were 9 destroyers. The German destroyers, most of which had been damaged in the earlier fight.

The outcome was unsurprising, as the entire German force was annihilated, including a sub sunk by Warspite's floatplane. Three of the British destroyers were damaged, including the HMS Eskimo, which had its bow blown off by a German torpedo. The Eskimo survived to return to England despite the heavy damage. She was rebuilt and fought throughout the war, surviving it.

All-in-all, the naval battles of Narvik were a good illustration of the boldness that made the Royal Navy such a formidable opponent.

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