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HMS Penelope Sunk off Anzio

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Unit/ Formation: HM Ships

Location: Naples

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1944

Date/s: 18 February 1944

HMS Penelope was an Arethusa-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 15 October 1935, and commissioned 13 November 1936.

On the 11 Apr 1940 she entered a Norwegian fjord to support an attack of British destroyers against a German destroyer flotilla. On the way into the fjord she ran aground on rocks and was badly damaged.

She was towed clear by HMS Eskimo but sustained 4 near-misses by aerial bombs exacerbating the damage already sustained by hitting the rocks.

1941 - Royal Marines crew of the aft turret are relaxing after action. One crew member is playing the trumpet. The after 6" turret and 4" Anti-Aircraft Turret are also visible.(Copyright: South Tyneside Libraries please do not use without permission)

On wartime service with Force K formed in October 1941 at Malta, to operate against convoys sailing from Italy to Libya she was holed so many times by bomb fragments that she acquired the nickname "HMS Pepperpot" During this attack the ship's cat gave birth to three kittens, Bomb, Blitz and Blast.

Penelope took part in Operation Shingle, the amphibious assault on Anzio, Italy, providing gunfire support as part of Force "X" with USS Brooklyn on 22 January 1944.

She also assisted in the bombardments in the Formia area during the later operations.

On the 8th Penelope, under the command of Captain G. D. Belben carried out five bombardments in support of military operations at Anzio beachhead she then returned to Naples to re arm.

On 18 February 1944, was leaving Naples to return to the Anzio area when she was torpedoed at 40.55°N 13.25°E by the German submarine U-410 under the command of Horst-Arno Fenski.

A torpedo struck her in the after engine room and was followed sixteen minutes later by another torpedo that hit in the after boiler room, which caused a major explosion. 417 of the crew, including the captain, went down with the ship and 206 survived, rescued by landing craft.

A memorial plaque commemorating those lost is in St Ann's Church, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.

Royal Marine casualties:

BAILEY, Tom, Marine, CH/X 3058:

BLANDFORD, Leonard W, Musician, RMB/X 727:

BRINDLEY, George A, Marine, PO/X 777:

BROWN, Alfred F, Marine, CH/X 3102

CAIRNS, Frank, Marine, CH/X 2352:

CHANT, 25 Charles A, Marine, PO/X 100312:

CLEWER, John T, Ty/Corporal, PO/X 3207:

DUTTON, Stanley, Marine, RFR, PO/X 628:

GUEST, Cyril W, Marine, PO/X 108705:

HORTON, John V, Marine, PO/X 5120:

HUDDLESTON, Arthur V, Marine, PO/X 3996:

HURST, Kenneth W, Marine, CH/X 3842:

JONES, Joseph, Marine, PO/X 108706:

KELLY, Thomas B, Marine, PO/X 5096:

LANGFORD, Cyril J, Bandmaster 2c, RMB/X 298:

LOCKYER, Cyril J, Marine, PO/X 101729,:

MALE, Leslie N, Ty/Corporal, PO/X100106:

NICHOLSON, William, Musician, RMB/X 1656:

PENDERED, George S C, Marine, PO/X 5094:

PICKETT, Henry E, Musician, RMB/2741:

ROBINSON, Bernard W P, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 782:

WOODHOUSE, Joseph, Marine, PO/X 4302. Read More/ Web Link: HMS Penelope Association

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