Document: Illustrious, January 10, Damage (Bomb & Shell)




Length   743' 7"
Breadth  106' 9" (Flight Deck) 
Displacement    23207 tons
Draught 23' 10.4"

 See Figs. No.  1 - 7 and Photographs Nos. 1-19. 

H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS sustained bomb damage in the Mediterranean and after temporary repairs at Malta and Alexandria, proceeded to Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth Va. U.S.A.

The following account is an extract from the very full damage report prepared at the request of D.N.C. by the Manager of the Norfolk Navy Yard:-

At 1007 on January 10th 1941, ILLUSTRIOUS was in company with WARSPITE (Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean) and VALIANT, in position 30° 14' N - 12° 37' J, course 220, speed 18 knots.

At 1120 an enemy aircraft was picked up by R.D.F. at 28 miles and the Fulmars were directed towards it. Red section made contact and found the enemy to be a single 379 at 12000' and shot it down at 1125.


First Attack – Torpedo Aircraft

At about 1220 unidentified aircraft were detected by R.D.F., distance six miles, coming in low and the fighters were directed towards them. The aircraft were sighted at 1222 and identified as two S79s making a torpedo attack. Long range and porn-porn fire was opened but the aircraft completed their attack and dropped their torpedoes about 2500 yards on the starboard beam of the ship. Avoiding action was taken by altering course to port and both torpedoes passed astern. Red Section of Fulmars (now only 2) attacked the enemy during their getaway and estimated that both aircraft were damaged; these two Fulmars expended all their ammunition and reported to this effect by R/T. White Section were unable to catch the S79s before they reached Linosa Island.

At 1228 course was altered to 060° and station regained on WARSPITE. Course was altered to 110° and speed increased to 18 knots.

 Second Attack - Dive Bombing.

 At about 1225 a large group was detected by D/F at 28 miles approaching from the north. The situation at this time was that there were four Fulmars in the air but low down and some distance from the fleet; two had expended their ammunition and the other two had expended about half. In accordance with the signalled flying programme, relief fighters and A/S patrols were due to be flown off at 1230, those in the air landed at 1245 to give an overlap. Immediately the large group was reported, the Fighter Directing Officer ordered the Fulmars in the air to return over the fleet and climb; he also asked that the reliefs should be flown off as quickly as possible.

The sequence of events in the next few minutes was as follows:

 1234 _ Commander-in-Chief ordered alteration of course to 210° to fly off aircraft (3 Swordfish and 4 Fulmars).


1235 - Large formation sighted on the starboard quarter.
1236 - Opened fire. 1237 - Last aircraft off deck.
1238 - Course altered to 1100 and loose formation ordered.
1239 - The dive boMbing attack developed and hits scored on the ship

Tactics of Attacking Aircraft.

The attacking aircraft consisted of two formations of Junkers 87 with German markings. It was difficult to count the numbers exactly but the first formation consisted of fifteen and the second of twenty to thirty aircraft. They were in a very loose and flexible formation, constantly changing their relative positions and split when engaged by long range fire It is estimated that the dive was started at about 12,000 feet and checked at 6000 to 800C feet before going into the aiming dive. Bomb release varied from about 1,500 feet in the first wave to 800 feet in the later ones. Most aircraft continued to dive after releasing their bombs and flattened out low over the water, having crossed the flight deck. At least one air-craft machine gunned the ship, The majority of the aircraft attack-ed the ship.

Most of the bombs dropped were large S.A.P. bombs of about 500 Kg. (1100 lb.) but some smaller bombs (either direct action or with very short delay) may have been used as the damage from certain hits was appreciably less than others.

See annotation attached to Page 2

 There was a delay of a minute in opening fire as aircraft were actually being flown off when the target was sighted. Long range controlled fire and barrage fire was used by the 4,5" guns and porn-porn fire. Continuous alteration of course was made as avoiding action. One or two enemy aircraft were shot down by gun fire.

There were six hits and several near-misses in this attack. The probable sequence of hits with estimatedsize of bombs is as follows :-


Hit No. 1: - Probably 500 Kg. (1100 lb.). Went through leading platform of P-1 Pom-pom and struck the top of the side armour.

Hit No, 2: Probably 500 Kg. (1100 lb.). Went through the flight deck forward on the port side.

Hit No. 3: - Probably a smaller G.P. Lomb. Burst on S-2 Pom-pom.

Hit Nr. 4: - About 250 Kg. (550 lb.) Hit the after deck.

Hit No. 5: - 250 Kg, (550 lb.) or 500 Kg. (1100 ib.) Hit the star-board forward corner of the after lift well.

Hit No. 6: -001Kg. (gi00 lb.) Pierced the fight deck and burst on hangar deck.

Original type-written 500kg (1100lb) over-written in handwriting with 1000kg (2200lbs)

In addition to these six hits there were at least three very near misses.

When this very severe and brilliantly executed D/B attack was over, the ship was on fire fore and aft and the flight deck was wrecked. It was decided to head for Malt,.. The JAGUAR and HASTY were sent as screen. As the steam steering gear had been affected by this second attack, there was difficulty in checking the ship swinging, but the electric steering gear was not entirely out of


Bomb Damage
10th – 19th Jan. 1941.
(Ref. D.N.C. 4B/R.92)

After examination of all available data it is considered that the size of the bomb which caused the hole in the flight deck was 1,000Kg., not 1,000 lb.

Paragraph 5, page 2 of the above report should therefore be amended to read as follows: -

Hit No. 6 : - 1,000 Kg. (2200 lb.) Pierced the flight deck and burst on hangar deck.


At about 1255 the electric steering gear failed completely as did the rudder indicator from the rudder head. The 'Not Under  Control' signal was hoisted and the ship's swing checked with the engines. By 1303 the ship was again under control from the steam steering gear in the centre engine room and a course of 1000 was set, speed being worked up to 26 knots by 1313.

Third Attack - High Level Bombing.

At 1329 seven aircraft approached at 14,000 feet and were reported by VALIANT (ILLUSTRIOUS' R.D.F. was put out of action in the previous attack). This formation was sighted and engaged well before bomb release; aim was inaccurate and the bombs fell scattered. There were no hits but the steam steering gear failed at this time and the ship was out of control and turning in circles. 'A' and 'B' gun groups only fired, 'X' and 'Y' groups being out of action.

Speed was reduced to twenty-one knots by 1.338 and fifteen knots by 1345 and at 1548 the ship was again under control from the steam steering engine. Course was set for Malta (now seventy-four miles distant) and speed increased to twenty knots, but at 1350 she was again out of control and began to swing rapidly to port. Speed was reduced accordingly. Further efforts were made to continue using the rudder but they were unsuccessful; then the rudder was put amidship. By 1434 the ship was under control steering by the engines and was 'leaded for Malta, speed being gradually increased. The ship was steered by the engines from this time on.

Fourth Attack - Dive Bombing.

At 1604 another group of aircraft was reported by VALIANT to be closing. It was long range at 1609 and consisted of about fifteen JU87s escorted by five fighters. They were engaged by the forward 4.5" guns with controlled and barrage fire and later by five pom-poms. This attack was neither so well synchronized nor so determined as that at 1240. The first wave of about six aircraft attacked from astern and both quarters and were well engaged, fire being continuous in spite of difficulty of seeing targets to port owing to the smoke and haze from the fire in hangar. Only two bombs fell near the ship. Three aircraft carried out an attack from the starboard beam at least a minute after the first wave. The last aircraft pressed his attack well home and scored a near miss abreast the funnel. The remaining six aircraft were seen retiring to the northeast at a considerable height, and two attempted an attack through clouds on the port beam, but on being engaged made off without dropping their bombs.

Nine bombs were dropped, one (size not known) hit the after lift causing casualties among those tending wounded and putting out fires. There were two very near misses, one starboard side abreast the island and one close to the quarter deck which caused damage aft and killed a number of wounded and those tending them on the quarter .deck.

Avoiding action was taken by altering course. There were no Fulmars present during this attack but there may have been some Hurricanes. The early sighting of this and subsequent formations was due to the prompt receipt (on auxiliary wave) of VALIANT's R.D.F. reports.

At 1643 the ship was in position 224°, Gozo Lt. 12 miles; steering 125° for the end of the Swept Channel and making good seventeen to eighteen knots. A list of about 5° to starboard had developed, Chiefly due to the amount of water in the hangar and in the wardroom flat. This water came from the hangar sprays and hoses and could not run away as the scuppers were blocked with debris.


Fifth Attack - High Level and Dive Bombing. 

At 1656 VALIANT reported enemy aircraft at fifty-two miles, closing. Seventeen aircraft were sighted at 1710 outside gun range. They circled astern of ship and worked up into the sun from her but then attacked the Battle Fleet with high level and dive bombing.

At 1803 the ship reached the entrance to the Swept Channel. Tugs had been requested to meet the ship there but as there were only two A/S vessels to be seen, the ship was continued up the channel still steering by main engines and gradually reducing speed. Sunset was at 1808.

Sixth Attack - Torpedo Aircraft.

Malta reported by A/T that enemy aircraft were on the star-board bow. A blind barrage from 4.5" guns and pom-poms was fired. No torpedo tracks were seen and nothing more was seen or heard of the aircraft.

At 1930 HASTY on the starboard beam, reported that she was investigating a contact and shortly afterwards fired depth charges.

At 1935 the ship was turned to port for the harbour entrance which was closed at slow speed waiting for the tugs. At 2025 a tug was secured aft and then two tugs were secured forward, the ship being about three-quarters of a mile from the Grand Harbour entrance.

The ship passed St. Elmo Breakwater Light at 2104 and berthed starboard side to Pariatorio Wharf at 2215.

The fires aft were finally extinguished by,0300/11.

Report on Fires in the Hangar.

 At the time of the first dive bombing attack there were nine Swordfish and four Fulmars in the hangar. All Swordfish were armed with either S.A.P. or A/S bombs and there were six torpedoes fully charged and fitted with Duplex pistols in readiness for a striking force.

Flying off had just been completed before attack developed. The forward and after fire screens were down, centre fire screen up and armoured doors open. (Upon subsequent investigations the probable position of curtains were as follows: - Curtains at frames 36, 109.-If and 152 were down. Curtain at frame 78 was up). A considerable number of Fleet Air Arm officers and men were in the hangar which was their action station. In the space of a few minutes two bombs burst in the after lift well, and one on the hangar deck in the middle of 'C' hangar. The fire screens which were down were blown along the hangar, a number of men were killed at once, including the hands stationed in the access lobbies to operate the sprayers; the hangar was full of smoke and fires started.

There was a big fire in 'C' hangar; the access door to S-2 hangar was shut. 'B' hangar sprayers were already on.

At S-3 access lobby, the outer door was closed and the inner one open with a fire inside the hangar. 'C' hangar sprayers were not on, the rating stationed in this lobby having been killed. It was then found that the sprayer valve was jammed. The condition at P-3 access lobby was similar but managed to open sprayer valve about half-way before the heat from the fire made it impossible to open it all the way.


In "A!' hangar there was a great deal of smoke but no visible fires and the sprayers were working. A party was trying to close the armour doors (No.1 fire curtain having been blown away), but was unable to get them more than half closed awing to the distortion qf the deck.

From this time onwards, frequent sorties were made by small parties into the hangar to find out what was going on and put out fires. On each occasion something was accomplished before the party was forced to go out for fresh air. All four Fulmars were burning fiercely, as were the overhead stores, which were difficult to put out, but "A" and "B" hangars were not burnt, presumably because there was a good space between them and the two foremost Fulmars. It was later discovered that the sprayer ring main in "C" hangar was pierced and the sprayers were therefore not working properly, if at all.

In the second dive bombing attack at 1615, there was another hit in the after lift well causing further casualties among those dealing with the damage and fires from the previous hit.

A great deal of water collected in the hangar from the sprayers and hoses, the scuppers being blocked by wreckage. This water and that in the flat below (much of which ran down from the hangar) gave the ship a considerable list to starboard and could not be got rid of except by making a hole in the starboard after exhaust fan trunking in the side of the hangar to allow the water to run out.

The fires in the overhead stores were finally extinguished at 0200/11.

 Damage to aircraft was as follows:- (1) Four Fulmars burnt out; (2) Five Swordfish written off and (3) Four Swordfish repairable.

 Of the six torpedoes, one warhead was hit by a splinter causing a gash eight inches long and about two inches deep. Another warhead was dented, one balance chamber was hit by a splinter and all the air escaped. All other torpedoes retained full air charge and were un-damaged apart from minor things. Some of the .303 ammunition went off, but no bombs exploded.

Report on Main and Auxiliary Machinery

 Machinery Control Room.

The Senior Engineer was in the Machinery Control Room throughout. When the ship was hit at 1240 the following happened in the (1) Half the lights went out. (II) The steam pressure in the starboard Boiler Room fell rapidly. (III) The electric steering motor indicator lights went out, although the low power circuit bell failed to ring. (IV) The following electric driven pumps stopped:- Port, centre and starboard feed heater drain pumps, starboard large and small distiller pumps, and port drain cooler pump. Steps were immediately taken to rectify the above, all of which were successful except for the trouble with the steering gear.

Steering Gear.

The indicator lights of both electric steering motors having gone out, the motors were restarted but soon the indicator lights again went out. The motors were then restarted by feeding from the opposite side of the ring main and the steam steering pump run up from idling to full running speed. When the electric motor indicator lights went out for the third time orders were given to change over to the steam steering engine and by 1303 the ship was under control from the steering position in the C.E.R., although the position of the wheel did not agree with the position of the rudder.


All telephones to the tiller flat had failed and the messenger and E.R.A. sent to report were unable to reach the flat because of the fires aft in the cabin flats. In fact, the tiller flat was flooded and the watchkeeper killed.

At 1330 the steering again failed and the ship turned in circles. This failure coincided with the high level bombing attack in which the ship was not hit but there may have been a near miss. By 1.348 the shin was under control from the steam steering position but control was lost once more at 1350. Further efforts were made to use the rudder but they were not successful and as the oil level in the steam steering replenishing tank showed that there must be a bad oil leak, the Senior Engineer asked permission from the Captain to steer by main engines. This was approved but orders were given that the rudder was to be kept amidships by use of the steam steering engines as the rudder seemed to be moving. This was done for a time but reports that the fire under the quarter deck was growing more intense seemed to indicate that it was being fed from the oil being lost from the steam steering gear and the Senior Engineer ordered the steam steering pump to be stopped. By 1435 the ship was under control by the main engines and continued so until she arrived at Malta.

Engine Rooms.

 Comparatively little trouble was experienced with the main engines. When the ship was being steered by the port and starboard shafts, the throttle watchkeepers obeyed the engine revolution telegraphs with alacrity.

The chief difficulty was the feed water consumption as the star-board main feed tank overflowed from the moment the ship started to list to starboard; Steps were taken to overcome this by the M.O.h and D.C.H.Q. and the list was reduced but there was considerable anxiety about the level of water in the port main feed tank.

Boiler Rooms.

At about 1250 all three boiler rooms reported to the M.C.R. that volumes of thick black smoke mixed with chemical fumes from fire extinguishers were pouring down through the fans and that the boiler rooms were becoming untenable. The Senior Engineer ordered all boiler rooms to bye pass their preheaters, open all sprayer flaps and speed up their fans, and that the boilers must be kept steaming at all costs. A Warrant Engineer was sent round the boiler rooms and reported that conditions were very bad especially in the port boiler room; he also reported that he had stationed the S.P.O. water tender on the high level gratings to watch the water level and told the boiler room E.R.A. to check the steam pressure gauges constant ly as these were completely invisible to the Chief Stoker controlling the fans on the deck plates.

Conditions remained bad for over an hour and a half and further 1 reports were received in the M.C.R. that the boiler rooms would have to her evacuated. The Senior Engineer insisted that the crews must remain and keep going and said that the standby watch would be sent down as reliefs for short spells. Unfortunately, this could not be done as they were all scattered round the ship in fire fighting parties, so the crews on watch stayed at their posts, using wet rags to breathe through and drinking feed water from the auxiliary feed pumps.

The courage and devotion to duty of the boiler room crews of the afternoon watch was magnificent and was a large factor in the ship's safe arrival in harbour.


Evaporator Rooms.

At 1350 a report was made to the M.C.R. that the Evaporator Rooms (particularly the Port) were becoming untenable due to heavy black smoke and fumes. The order was given to shut all ventilation valves to these rooms which resulted in the smoke gradually clearing but temperatures rose rapidly. Portable fans were rigged and the standby watchkeepers sent for to take 15 minute spells. The watch-keeper at the port evaporator was overcome before he could be relieved and was brought up by a Leading Stoker. Another Warrant Engineer then reported to the M.C.R. that the port evaporator room must be closed down but the Senior Engineer insisted that both plants must be kept going as so much feed water was being lost. A Leading Stoker there-fore, took over the watch at the top of the hatch and made frequent visits to the evaporator to see that it was running correctly. By these means both sets of evaporators continued to run until the ship reached harbour.

Dynamo Rooms

After the ship was hit it was reported to the M.C.R, that Nos. 2, 3, and 4 dynamo rooms were full of dense smoke. The watchkeepers successfully dealt with this in the following ways- No.2 watchkeeper obtained a breathing apparatus and carried on with his work, No. 3 watchkeeper opened the small access hatch and the fumes gradually cleared, No. 4 watchkeeper was forced to leave the room, tripping the machine before leaving. Aided by the dynamo E.R.A. the conditions were improved and the machine restarted and on load by 1404. Various other difficulties were encountered and overcome, and the dynamos continued to run through the coolness and efficiency of the watchkeepers aided by the initiative and resource of the dynamo E.R.A.


 State of Readiness

All six dynamos wert running and the ring main was divided into six sections by opening all ring main breakers.

Action electrical 'repair parties were closed up and reported correct at 1215. They were stationed as follows:

No. 1 - Electrical R.U. Store, upper deck, 56 station
No, 2 - Outside main switchboard, main deck, 70 station.
No. 3 - Machine shop starboard, main deck, 100 station,
 No. 4 - Low power work shop, main deck, 118 station.
No 5 - Cabin flat, main deck, 137 station.
No 6 - Flying control room.

These parties were each equipped with a repair box, 500 and 100 watt portable lanterns or reflectors, illuminating circuits, and spare lengths of cable patt. 1889, 1888, 546 and 991.

Summary of Electria1 Damage Sustained During Dive Bombing Attacks, at 1240  and 1610.

The first hit went through P.2 Porn-porn platform and outboard; it did not cause any electrical damage.

The second hit went through flight deck port side forward and passing through the lecture room burst outboard. Splinters caused much damage to lighting and power leads in the adjacent compartments.  P.1 searchlight power supply and control leads were cut and the resistances on the cable deck wrecked; the mounting and lamp itself were un-damaged. Other splinters from this bomb severed "W” and "F" D.G. cables.


The third hit burst on S12 Pom-Pom. It appears to have caused an instantaneous short circuit on the pom-pom motor supply leads which opened No 1 feeder breaker on overload (see main switchboard narrative). The shock tripped the starters of "F" and "M" D.G. motor-generators. Splinters cut all leads in the vicinity of the explosion on the fore end of the island structure which were not behind protective plating, and there was considerable damage to leads in the cook's mess beneath.

The fourth and fifth hits burst in the after lift well. The explosions wrecked the delivery end of the after ammunition conveyor together with the motors and starters and splinters cut all high and low power and multicores round the lift well and in adjacent flats and cabin-s. A short circuit on Y.2 gun mounting supply leads opened No. 12 section feeder breaker. (see main switchboard narrative).

 The sixth hit went through the flight deck armour at 127 station on the centre line and burst in the hangar either on or just above the hangar deck. This deck was broken and forced down severing both port and starboard L. cable runs including those between the "X" and "Y" transmitting stations and the after gun groups. Lighting and power leads in the wardroom flat and cabin flat below were damaged by splinters and fire and the shock was sufficient to dislodge and damage a number of branch breakers in the after branch breaker rooms.

 A near miss on the port side damaged lighting and power leads in the weather deck opening above the torpedo blowing head room, and caused a fire in the F.A.A. C.P.O's mess which damaged the insulation of 'sir coil.

A near miss on the starboard side aft caused a fire in the marines' messdeck which damaged lighting and power and some L.P. leads.

The only damage inside the island structure was caused by a splinter which pierced the first non-protective plate on the port side abreast the R.D.F. office. It broke up inside and smaller splinters cut leads supplying the A.D.O, Eversheds, gyro repeaters and 20" signalling projectors; it also put the R.D.F. set out of action.

 At 1610 in another dive bombing attack the after lift well was again hit and further electrical damage done in this area, in particular to the cinema room and to equipment on forward bulkhead of the quarter-deck.

Main Switchboard and Repair Parties: Narrative.

There was no indication of electrical damage at the switchboard until the hit on S.2 porn-porn brought No 1 section feeder off and stopped "F" and "M" D.G. generators. This feeder breaker failed to go on again from the switchboard but was immediately put on from its local control. (This fault was due to an earth developing on the control wiring). No.1 section breakers were put on again with the exception of restorable lights on which No. 1 repair party first had to isolate some dead shorts due to cut cables.

Hits in the after lift well now brought feeder breakers controlling Nos. 11 and 12 sections off, presumably due to short circuits. No.12 was at once put on from switchboard but came off again when the control push of the circuit breaker supplying "Y.2" gun mounting was pressed. It was put on again but as none of the breakers on No.12 section would go or it was finally taken off.

Meanwhile No.11 feeder breaker had failed to go on again from the switchboard and No. 4 repair party reported by 'phone that the control


fuse in the breaker had blown. This was replaced and the breaker put on from 'local control'. Some of No. 11 section breakers were then put on from the switchboard and remained on until the section indicating light went out showing that the breaker room had probably flooded, which was in fact the case. No. 11 feeder breaker was then taken off.

'When Nos. 11 and 12 sections failed Nos. 4 and 5 repair parties were informed by 'phone and told to start rigging emergency supplies. It appears that No. 5 repair party under the Chief T.C.M. were just getting tools and cable up from their Headquarters when the bomb burst in the wardroom flat and three out of four became casualties, due to burns and splinter wounds. They all managed to escape through the after doors but for some time the switchboard did not know what had happened to them.

This explosion also shattered most of the lamps in the keyboard flat and No. 4 repair party rigged illuminating circuits from an emergency fuse board.

The near-miss on the port side caused a fire in the F.A.A. C.P.O's mess. Smoke poured into No.4 generator Room and the watch-keeper reported to the Engineer Officer of the section that the machine was on fire. This unfortunately resulted in the machine being stopped at 1310 without warning the, switchboard and Nos. 6 and 8 section were dead before there was time to close the intervening R.M. breaker. This supply failure however was only temporary, the sections were put on No.6 dynamo and all breakers remade with the exception of restorable lighting breaker VI.A.10 which had a short circuit (No.4 generator was restarted at 1445).

At the time of this failure casualties were being attended to in the laundry; the operating table lights went out but No.3. repair party provided 500 watt emergency lamps.

At about 1255 the electric steering motors and rudder indicators failed due to the compartments flooding. An attempt to put on No. 2 motor from IX.B1 resulted in a heavy overload on No. 5 generator which came off the board. It was put on again almost immediately.

The hangar spray pumps were started at about 1250 and ran for a long period until orders were received from Commander (F) to stop them. Some time later, probably at 1610 when the bomb burst in the after lift well in the second dive bombing attack, No. 1 and 3 pump running lamps again came on in the switchboard.

The latter thought that this indicated another fire in the hangar but it subsequently transpired that the pump had been started by a splinter short circuiting the control leads. This accident led to a great deal of unnecessary water being pumped into the ship; trouble was also experienced in stopping No. 3 pump and eventually the fuse release switch had to be taken off.

By about 1320 the Torpedo Officer had formed an estimate of the damage aft. He found all doors leading to the wardroom flat shut, the after end of the ship in darkness, a fire under the lift well and no sign of No. 5 repair party. He therefore gave orders for Nos. 3 & 4 repair parties to supply power and light to the after end of the ship by connecting No. 3 dynamo to the vertical risers by the starboard sea-plane crane and from thence along the boat deck to emergency fuse boards. 500 and 100 watt lanterns and portable pump were supplied from this source; arrangements were also made to supply the turret pumps, but this was eventually not required.


At about 1700 the doors at 121 station leading to the ward-room flat were opened and the after flats and spaces were then gradually rigged with illuminating circuits fed from a fuse board in each flat.

The boards were supplied from No, 6 dynamo M.S.S. via the vertical riser to the machine shop and thence by emergency leads run along the upper deck. The emergency ring main on the main deck level could not be used as the majority of the flats were flooded.

Low .Power.

Remarks on Miscellaneous Electrical Installations.


The main telephone exchange worked satisfactorily throughout. Some handsets fell off and other lines were shorted but they were either plugged or the fuses removed and there was no serious dislocation.

Soundpowered 'Phones.

Shock and blast put the majority of the sound-powered armament 'phones out of adjustment and communication was maintained by messenger and megaphone. They were, however, very useful in rigging emergency 'phones after the action, e.g. between compass platform and centre engine room steering position.

Gyro Compasses.

Gyro compasses were satisfactory. One explosion started both alarms ringing; they were at once reset and there was no apparent failure of either high power or low power supply.

Pitometer Log and Plotting Tables.

The log and all four plotting tables worked correctly through-out, which proved of great value, especially when the ship was turning in circles out of control.

Wind Speed and Direction Unit.

Put out of action by shock.

Lower Power Supply.

There was no failure in the low power supply Systems either forward or aft.

4,5" Fire Control.

There was no electrical failure at the forward group but all low power multicores to the after groups were shattered in the wardroom flat and after lift well.

Conclusions and Recommendations by  Shi p's Officers.

Ring Main.

The system stood the test remarkably well. All breakers were subjected to heavy shock during the various attacks but there was no apparent case of shock failure. The "Golf Tee" method of marking breakers in the main switchboard proved very useful.


Breaker Control.

 It is strongly recommended that every breaker in the ship should be capable of being controlled from the main switchboard. It is essential that the switchboard should be able to control the load being placed on any one section and be able to prevent a supply failure or damage to ring main and generators through the closing of breakers by accident or by insufficiently informed persons. (No. 5 generator has twice been damaged due to this).

Emergency Supply.

The necessity for an upper deck run of emergency terminals was fully demonstrated. A centre line run from 120 bulkhead aft has now been installed by Malta Dockyard.

It is recommended that in addition terminals should be fitted in the decks between all main bulkheads enclosing large spaces or above machinery compartments such as pump rooms, and that these terminals be connected by vertical risers.

It is also recommended that emergency terminals should be fitted to certain important compartments such as the tiller flat for temporary telephones.

Emergency Cable, Lanterns, Circuits, etc.

It was thought that the ship carried unusually large stocks but they were nearly all used during the course of action and subsequent rigging of emergency supplies to the whole after end of the ship from 120 station to the stern.

 In addition to heavy cable for rigging emergency main supply-ing fuse boards and for special machinery such as turret pumps it is recommended that each repair party should have the following minimum stocks:-

Cable Patt. 546   6 lengths of 50 yds. each.
Cable Patt. 991 A            - ditto -
500 watt, portable lanterns ) 4 in No.
and yard arm groups )
100 watt lamps in special ) 4 in No.
portable reflectors)
 Illuminating Circuit) 10 lengths each about 60ft
 Lampholders every 6 ft. )

Emergency Hangar Lighting.

 It is recommended that special 500 watt watertight emergency lanterns with long leads should be kept permanently plugged up ready for use outside each hangar access lobby. These lanterns could then be taken in by rescue or fire parties even if the sprayers were on. It was found very difficult to supply adequate emergency lighting in the hangar with the equipment available on board.


It is recommended that (a) all torches be provided with a sling so that they can be hung round the neck. (b) a larger proportion of more powerful and robust torches of the 'spotlight' type be provided.


Protection of Electric Leads.

The value of protective plating was well demonstrated, It is recommended that all important H.Po leads and multicore runs should always be protected and port and starboard runs well separated,


 The ship was secured to Pariatorio Wharf at 2215, on January 10, 1941,

The work of clearing the wreckage, ascertaining what damage had been done and making necessary repairs was begun on January 11th. The most important matter was to find out what was wrong with the steering gear and to put it right. As the ship was down about five feet by the stern, and as she was completely flooded from aft of frame 151 to upper deck level with numerous under water holes and as there was partial flooding caused by unescaped water from the hangar spray pumps and all compartments on upper and main decks aft of frame 121 it was some days before the tiller flat could be reached.

While the after part of the ship was being pumped out by ships and dockyard portable pumps, all holes close above the water line on the port bow were being patched as rapidly as possible in order to allow the stern to come up without taking in more water forward. By the night of Saturday the 11th, the after part of the ship was beginning to rise and holes were temporarily filled with wood plugs as they appeared above water. Divers were also repairing under water damage aft at this time.

 As the water level dropped, from the vicinity of the after lift and the wardroom and cabin flats, the damaged after lift was hoisted out of the ship on Monday the 13th, and large portions of torn deck plating were cut away.

By the evening of Wednesday the 15th, it was possible to reach the tiller fiat. It was then found that the failure of the electrical steering gear was entirely due to flooding, there being no mechanical defects, and that the solenoid valve had jammed open thus allowing an escape of oil from the system which eventually caused the failure f the steam steering gear

Air Raids.

Up to noon on January 16th there were many intermittent alarms. There was one on Monday the 13th at 0930 by nine or twelve planes, believed to have been Italians, and some damage was done to civilian property.

 At about 1440 and 1610 on Thursday the 16th, two large scale dive bombing attacks developed on the ship and on the Dockyard and many bombs were dropped. The ship was hit once, the bomb hit the after end of the flight deck.

There were more air raid; on the 17th and 18th but no damage was done.

On Sunday the 19th, heavy dive bombing attacks were made on the ship at about 1015 and again at about 1310. In the first attack there were several very near misses, but the second attack was notice-ably less determined, bombs being dropped wide. In the attacks on this day the enemy lost 19 certain, 3 probable, and 4 damaged, of which 8 were attributed to gun fire. During all raids at Malta a heavy 45" and porn-porn barrage was fired by the ship.


A near miss on Sunday the 19th on port side, lifted the ship and evidently pierced the hull below the water line as she rapidly took a considerable list to port.

During the next three days the work of strengthening the after part of the ship continued. By Thursday the 23rd the ship was ready for sea.

No movements of tugs were made until it was considered to be too dark for any reconnaissance aircraft to see them.. . The ship slipped from Parlatorio Wharf at 1846 and passed St. Elmo at 1939 when speed was increased to ten knots and paravanes streamed. Speed was increased to twenty-five knots by 2019. At 2110 the ship was clear of the Swept Channel and course was set to pass to the southward of the Medina Banks, and then in accordance with orders from the operations.

Every effort had been made before sailing to ascertain which fuel oil tanks had been damaged and to isolate them. But by 0200, the 24th, it became clear than many tanks were contaminated with sea water or that there was a bad leak in the suction lines. 13y 0800 at which time there was barely enough uncontaminated fuel oil for three hours steaming the trouble was found to be due to the latter cause and during the forenoon steady progress was made in clearing water from contaminated tanks and in isolating the damaged lines. As a result of this water being in the fuel oil the ship was making considerable smoke screen at day light and speed was reduced to twenty-one knots. During the course of the forenoon speed was increased to twenty-three knots and this speed vas maintained until arrival at Alexandria.

The ship entered Alexandria harbour at 1300 the 25th of January with only sixty tons of fuel oil remaining.

Summary of Damage.

Hit No.1

 Probably 500 Kg. bomb which hit on the right hand feed rails of p.1 pom-pom which was trained at about Red 140. This bomb then perforated the trainer's platform and passed over the ship's side and in doing so struck the junction of two armour plates. It rebounded and fell into the water. Apparently this bomb did not explode.

Effect on Fighting Efficiency.

One pom-pom out of action.

Hit No.2. (See Photographs Nos. 1-3).

Probably 500 Kg. bomb. Struck right forward at No.10 station; passed through the recreation space port side and out through the flare  of the ship, bursting about 10' above the waterline. Splinter damage was intense causing complete peppering of the ship's side. This caused a certain amount of flooding at the forward end of the ship.

Hit No.3. (See Photographs Nos. 4 & 5).

Probably a small G.P. bomb, and was a direct hit onS.2. pom-pom which was trained Green 120. The bomb burst on impact. Deck was not perforated but was dished downwards to a maximum of about 9 in., the protective screen on the inboard side of the crane was damaged by blast. A few rounds of ammunition on loading trays were burnt. Splinters perforated the shield of S.1 porn-pom and killed a number of that gun's crew, but the damage to the gun itself was slight.


The jib of the crane collapsed and temporarily jammed S.1 porn-pom. Splinters and blast cut all electric circuits to S1 and S. 2 pom-poms,

Effect on Fighting Efficiency,

S.2. porn-porn completely out of action. S.1. porn-porn temporarily out of action until jib of crane was removed.

Hits Nos- 4 and 5, (See Photographs Nos. 6-10).

Hit No. 4 - about 250 Kg. Hit the after deck.
Hit No. 5 - .250 or 500 Kg  Hit the starboard corner of the after lift well. It was not possible to discriminate between damage caused by these two hits. The entire after part of the ship from 152 to 156 frames was completely gutted down to the armour above the steering compartment. This armour remained practically intact. Apart from splinter holes the ship's side aft was undamaged. Damage was caused to the steering gear. The rudder jammed with port wheel on, and the ship circled for some time. The wheel was centred by means of the steam steering engine.

Effect on Fighting  Efficiency.

The main effect Was the complete wrecking of the after end of the ship and the damage to steering gear causing the ship to be out of control for some time,

 Hit No 6, (See Photographs Nos, 11-14.)

Pencil annotation correcting type-written 500kg to 1000kg

500 Kg Struck and perforated the flight deck (3" N,C. armour) at about 131 station and 1 ft  to port of the centre line. The hole in the armour was 19" in diameter with petalled leaves turned down-wards. The armour appeared to be laminated. It is judged that the bomb only just defeated the armour. There was no general dishing of the armour and the joints were not seriously distorted The bomb detonated about 2 ft. above the hangar deck; its base struck and - perforated the armour deck at about 130 station 2' to starboard of the centre line. The explosion of the bomb dished the hangar deck between 128 and 132 stations, with a hole about 4 or 5 ft, wide, symmetrically about the centre line and between 130 and 131 stations. Below this the upper-deck-was forced down about 4". This distortion of the hangar and upper decks caused jumping of the hoists in B group and damage to the conveyor trays and this seriously impeded ammunition supply. Although the conveyor trays were full of ammunition only one round exploded.

Some splinters from this bomb or debris from ship's structure passed down through the main deck into some oil fuel tanks beneath.

The blast damage in the hangar was considerable. The after lift was distorted so that its forward end was 4 ft, down and its after end 4 ft. up (This damage may have been caused by a German aircraft which crashed into the after lift), The blast also distorted the forward lift so that at the centre line it was pushed up 1" to 4"

There was also considerable splinter damage in the hangar. All fire curtains in the hangar were destroyed by blast. They were of the roller blind type and caused considerable damage by their splinter effect.

Some serious fires were caused and hangar sprays were turned on.


Effect on Fighting Efficiency.

Hangars and both lifts out of action. Ship useless as an aircraft carrier.

Hit No.7. (See photographs No s. 6-10

A further hit, size unknown occurred in the 4th attack. It struck the after lift causing casualties among those tending wounded and putting out the fires. The damage caused by this hit was indistinguishable from, and is contained in the general description of that given above for hits 4 and 5.

Near Miss No.1

 This occurred some time during the attacks at sea and was on the starboard side at the after end and caused damage, by flooding, to the electrical portion of the Steering gear.

 Hit No.8.. (See Photographs Nos. 15-17).

Probably 500 Kg.. This occurred in Malta on the 16th January. The bomb struck and perforated the unarmoured portion of the flight deck just abaft station 170 and about 20 ft. to the port of the middle line. It passed through the upper gallery deck and burst just in or below the captain's cabin. Two cabins in this neighbourhood were The bomb blew a hole about 15 ft. in diameter in the hangar deck. There was considerable damage.

Near Miss No.2. (See Photographs Nos. 18 & 19).

 This occurred in Malta on the 19th January. The bomb was judged to have been within a few feet of the ship's side. The bottom of the side armour was pushed in about 3". Below the armour the ship's side was set in about 5 ft. The total length of the dishing was about 75 ft. The protective bulkhead to the bulge remained watertight. Flooding outside the protective bulkhead caused a list of about 50 to port. The port boiler room which is in this vicinity was out of action due to brick work being shaken down by concussion and due to general shock damage to pipe structure. Both sliding feet of the port H.P. and L.P. turbines were fractured and there was some damage to auxiliary machinery.