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HMS Ramillies D Day Bombardment - Benerville Battery

HMS RAMILLIES  - Royal Sovereign-class 15in gun Battleship



April to May

 

Took part in preparatory exercises for planned assault landings. Nominated for service in Eastern Task Force with Bombarding Force D. Target in Pre-arranged Fire Plan - Benerville Battery. (Operation NEPTUNE - For details of naval activities prior to and during landings see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (HMSO).).

 

June

 

2nd - At 1900 hours sailed from Greenock for the Normandy beachhead on Operation NEPTUNE in company with battleship WARSPITE, Monitor ROBERTS, cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER, DANAE and Polish ORP DRAGON and escorting destroyers. RAMILLIES sailed with a reduced ships complement so that only two of her four 15 inch turrets could be manned at any one time. This was designated Bombarding Force S and was to have sailed directly to their bombarding stations off the beachhead. However due to bad weather the operation was postponed for 24 hours so they made for Portsmouth.

 

4th - Arrived off Portsmouth.

 

5th - Passage through swept channel to Assault area with ships of Force S of the Eastern Task Force in Convoy S6, escorted by destroyers SAUMAREZ, SWIFT, Norwegian destroyers HNorMS SVENNER and STORD and Frigates ROWLEY and HOLMES.

 

6th - At 0530 hours NE of Sword Beach, approximately 11 miles west of Le Havre (at this time Le Havre was cut off from the invasion fleet by a smoke screen) RAMILLIES opened fire on the Benerville Battery at a range of 24000 yards. (The Benerville battery consisted of 4 x 150mm guns, three in casemates and one in an open pit open).


Almost simultaneously with opening fire, the bombarding force was attacked by the German 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla of T28, FALKE, JAGUAR and MÖWE which fired 18 torpedoes and made off. Torpedoes were seen approaching RAMILLIES and she turned away from them. They passed between RAMILLIES and WARSPITE, narrowly missing both, but one went on to hit and sink the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS SVENNER at 0535 hours. (The 5th TB flotilla had sailed from Le Havre at 0440 hours with orders to attack landing craft that had been sighted off Port en Bessin. But on breaking through the smoke screen they were confronted by the bombardment line of battleships, monitor and cruisers. On seeing the overwhelming force they fired their torpedoes and returned to Le Havre at speed).


After 48 rounds, a hydraulic valve in A turret failed and the gun crew immediately transferred to B turret. In the evening, ran out of 15 inch ammunition and sailed for Portsmouth.

 

7th - At 0830 hours arrived at Portsmouth to re-ammunition.

At 2030 hours sailed for the beachhead.

 

8th - Arrived off the beachhead and anchored near battleship RODNEY and bombarded targets nominated by army.

 

10th - Bombarded targets around Caen.

 

11th - Bombarded targets around Caen, including a German armoured concentration of 200 tanks.

 

12th - Bombarded targets around Caen, including railway marshalling yards. Carried a bombardment in support of 6th Airborne Division assault.

 

14th - Bombarded strongpoint NW of Caen. Carried a bombardment in support of 6th Airborne Division assault.

 

15th - Returned to her D-Day bombardment position and re-engaged the mobile field guns that had been moved back into the Benerville position.

 

17th - Further bombardment of the Benerville position.

 

18th - After firing 1000 rounds of 15 inch she was withdrawn and returned to Portsmouth.

 

July

 

After release from NEPTUNE prepared for bombardment duties in Mediterranean. Allocated for service under US Command for support of landings in South France. (Operation DRAGOON - For details see LANDINGS IN SOUTH FRANCE (HMSO).


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