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HMS Erebus - 15inch Monitor D Day

Updated: Jun 4

HMS Erebus

Erebus was a monitor, a shallow draft vessel which could steam at around 12 knots, she was basically a floating gun platform that could get close to the shore and fire her 2 x 15 inch guns (the same carried by a Battleship) as part of a shore bombardment or in support of infantry ashore.

Her nearly 40cm (381 mm) shells could be fired out to around 23 miles so she could reach far inshore. 

She also carried High Angled 4 inch guns and AA guns.

The monitor had a crew of around 300, and a Royal Marines detachment of 35 she had already seen action in WW1, the Russian Intervention and in WW2 she was used to run supplies to besieged Tobruk and bombard enemy concentrations. She was present at Trincomalee during the Japanese attack on the harbour there, receiving a near-miss hit from Japanese aircraft, suffering casualties and in 1943, she was damaged while bombarding Sicily during the Allied invasion of Sicily.

For Operation Neptune she was initially assigned to the Western Task Force under US Command, as a part of Bombardment Force A supporting US troops on UTAH Beach.


After work up she sat in Portland waiting until the signal ‘Post Mike One’ was received. (Assume this was the signal to move to the forming up area)


When they departed on 5th June they sailed via St Catherine's point on the Isle of White, here they dropped a weighted line in the water that measured the exact distance to their jumping off point which was 10,000 yards off of Utah beach, they anchored at midnight and waited until being called forward at 5 am to start shelling gun positions, the batteries at Barfleur and La Pernelle.

After firing 43 rounds until there was a breach failure, so ended her D Day action, she returned to Portsmouth to have a barrel replaced and then returned under RN Command and saw action supporting operations throughout the Battle for Normandy area supporting troops ashore she is credited with 30 direct hits cut of 130 rounds fired.

(Later supported Walcheren Infatuate in the period from 6 June she fired 750 rounds in all)

Navy Net:


Deployed at Weymouth prior to Joining Bombardment Force A for support# of the US landings on UTAH Beach.

4th      Operation delayed 24 hours.

5th      Joined US battleship USS NEVADA, US cruisers USS TUSCALOOSA and USS QUINCY, HM Cruisers HAWKINS, ENTERPRISE and BLACK PRINCE during their passage from Belfast to Solent. Dutch Gunboat HM Neth. Ship SOEMBA joined Force A

Passage through swept channel with Force A.

6th      On arrival off UTAH Beach took up bombarding position.

Provided gunfire support in accordance with fire-plan.

7th      On completion of Assault Phase transferred to Eastern Task Force and came under RN Command.

Deployed for naval gunfire support in Eastern Task Force Area with Support Squadron.



Deployed with four Landing Craft, Gun (Large) in Seine Bay but unable to provide any support as the positions of the opposing armies was not clearly defined.

19th    Bombarded targets in Houlgate area

20th     Houlgate bombardment in continuation.

26th    Bombarded targets at Caen in support of British Army operations

29th    Continued gunfire support on same areas.



Remained in Channel area for support of shore operations.



10th        Under fire from shore with HM Battleship WARSPITE during bombardment of Le Havre area during military operations.


Credited with 30 direct hits cut of 130 rounds fired.

19th    Deployed in Seine Bay and bombarded batteries in Houlgate area that were delaying advance of British troops.

20th    Returned to Portsmouth to replenish ammunition.

Related Royal Marines 'Dits'

Read more/ References:

  1. Nay Net - HMS EREBUS - Erebus-class 15in gun Monitor

  2. Royal Marines and D Day by Captain the Reverend D A Farquharson-Roberts RM (available via the RMHS)


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