1940. H.M.S. RENOWN, 22nd April 1940.
|El Renown en 1942|
As soon as the enemy turned away RENOWN altered towards, bring the enemy to about 40 degrees on the starboard bow, and speed was increased to about 26 knots (i.e. telegraphs were put at full speed). The action then became general, the enemy on a retired course with his A arcs just open and RENOWN chasing followed by the destroyers who, although at the extremity of their range, were all firing rapidly. Later, due to the heavy sea, they had to fall back and were detached to patrol West Fjord. The enemy started to take avoiding action, causing salvos to fall out for line so that the range was temporarily lost. At 0414 a hit was observed in the fore superstructure of SCHARNHORST and two minutes later a second hit, in the form of a quick rising column of smoke amidships, was also observed. The latter was not funnel or gun smoke as SCHARNHORST had stopped firing after the first hit. Two salvos later, although a salvo of three guns had fired, only one splash appeared. Previously splashes including overs had been clearly seen, and it can be assumed with confidence that a further hit or hits on SCHARNHORST had been obtained. The result of this and the previous hits was to make a reluctant enemy into a hurriedly retiring one, as SCHARNHORST turned directly away at high speed. The HIPPER meanwhile had been firing rapidly at RENOWN but without obtaining any hits. She had been engaged by the starboard 4.5 inch battery at a range of 18, 000 to 20,000 yards. At this range the fall of shot of these small 4.5 inch shell were only seen intermittently and the control officer adopted the tactics of firing blind ladders across the best obtainable rangefinder range.
During this and subsequent periods I took advantage of the agility of the modern fire control now fitted in RENOWN to alter course within small limits as necessary to prevent the enemy establishing hitting. As soon as the SCHARNHORST broke off the action and turned away, HIPPER started to draw across making smoke to try and screen her. The fire of the main armament was then shifted to HIPPER, who, after the first salvo, also turned abruptly and joined her consort in flight. She, however, swung occasionally to bring her A arcs to bear and fire a broadside. This finished the main part of the action, which lasted twenty minutes.The second phase then consisted of a chase directly to windward and into a heavy sea. This second phase lasted about 1 ½ hours, with fire only being possible intermittently as both the enemy and RENOWN were passing through squalls of sleet lasting from a few minutes to, in one case, twenty minutes. The HIPPER was engaged as opportunity offered at a gradually increasing range from about 22, 000 to 29, 000 yards. As soon as RENOWN turned into the sea at 26 knots after the first phase, heavy seas were taken over the forecastle and it became a practical impossibility to fight the armament. Speed was therefore reduced to 24 knots during the periods of engagement and increased when the enemy disappeared into squalls; the average speed during the period was about 25 knots. An attempt was made to increase speed to the maximum towards the end, but the ship began to strain badly and speed had to be reduced again. The fire at HIPPER during this second phase was ineffective, mainly due to the long range, the end on view and the dodging of the enemy, who altered course every time RENOWN fired, and also the fact that the only two foremost turrets were bearing. During part of this phase also the right gun of A turret was out of action due to a mechanical failure of the anti flash arrangements. At 0600 the enemy went into a prolonged squall at a range of 29, 000 yards. They reappeared at 0615 for a short period far ahead and out of range. Contact was then lost, and the enemy had disappeared by the time RENOWN finally drew clear out of the squalls about an hour later.
Charles Edward Barrington Simeon capitan del Renown en el momento del combate y mas tarde Vice Almirante,como aquí aparece.
A report on lessons learned is being forwarded separately.
I have the honour to be, Your obedient Servant (sgd) C.E.B. Simeon, Captain.