SINK THE SCHARNHORSSCHARNHORST

WAR AT SEA THE BATTLE OF THE NORTH CAPE

HMS Belfast and the battleship Duke of York were the vanguards of two escort groups tasked with hunting down the mighty Scharnhorst. In what became the Royal Navy’s last battleship versus battleship action, Eric Grove details how the German raider was despatched to her watery grave on Boxing Day 1943. Additional words by John Ash.

Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, GCB, KBE, as Commander of the British Pacific Fleet, in 1944. (HISTORIC MILITARY PRESS)
Some of the ice that formed on HMS Belfast’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ gun turrets during the winter of 1943.
Sailors chip ice from the deck of HMS Vansittart. More than 200 tons of ice and snow were cleared, but as always, it reformed quickly.
(TOPFOTO)

On 26 December 1943 the German battleship Scharnhorst was proceeding alone through a biting snowstorm off Norway’s North Cape. Her mission was to destroy the ships of two Allied Arctic convoys – RA 55A and JW 55B. But at 9.21am, the hunter became the hunted, as a rain of shells from the Royal Navy’s Force 1 battle group indicated.

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