Thursday, 19 July 2018

Badly damaged ... but still useful: HMS Iron Duke and HMS York

HMS Iron Duke was the lead ship of the Iron Duke-class of super-dreadnoughts and had served as Admiral Jellicoe's flagship at the Battle of Jutland. Under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty she was partially disarmed and used as a training ship.

When the Second World War broke out, the Iron Duke was moved to Scarpa Flow to act as a base/depot ship and anti-aircraft vessel. She was badly damaged by German bombers in October 1939 and would have sunk if she hadn't been run aground. She was repaired so that she could continue to act as a static harbour ship, but she remained beached for the remainder of her service.

HMS York was a heavy cruiser (and half-sister of HMS Exeter) ...

... which was sunk in Suda Bay, Crete by Italian explosive motor boats operated by the elite Decima Flottiglia MAS. Like HMS Iron Duke, she was beached before the ship sank, ...

... and from the end of March 1941 until the evacuation of Crete in May of that year, her anti-aircraft guns were used to provide air defence for the Suda Bay area. Her armament was destroyed just before the final troops were evacuated from the island.


  1. Excellent stuff Bob. When I served on the modern HMS York (Type 42 Destroyer, 1986-88) we laid a wreath at Suda Bay in a ceremony which also involved lots of local dignitaries. Best regards. Phil

    1. Phil,

      I am pleased that you are enjoying this series of blog entries.

      It’s giid to know that the important role played by HMS York had not been forgotten and that those members of her crew who died have been suitably honoured.

      All the best,