Battleship HMS Barham

The battleship HMS Barham belonged to the Queen Elizabeth class, which were put into service during the First World War and belonged to the most modern warships of the time.


Launching and design:

The ships of the Queen Elizabeth class were intended as a successor to the Iron Duke class, but these should exceed in many respects.

So the main armament of the caliber was to be increased 343 mm to 381 mm. Appropriate prototypes of such new guns were still in the testing, but only by the pressure of the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill these were included in the construction, which represents a significant risk, should the guns are not yet mature enough.

Also, the armor was significantly strengthened in the area of ​​the sides and under water, as especially mines and torpedoes could be dangerous to the warships and severe damage, if not the destruction of the ship could result. The cover armor, on the other hand, was not reinforced because it was considered sufficient.

In the subsequent construction program of 1912 initially three battleships of the class were considered, in addition to an improved battle cruiser HMS Tiger, which was intended as HMS Leopard. After the ships were expected at a speed of 25 knots, the Navy Department decided to renounce the Leopard and to build a fourth battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class. Then, when the Federated Malay States promised to finance a fifth battleship, this too was included in the planning.

Criticism from the Director of Naval Construction that such a project could only be realized by using fuels with heavy oil and not in connection with coal was filed by Winston Churchill, who guaranteed oil supply even during wartime as responsible.

The launching of the HMS Barham took place on October 31, 1914, the commissioning on October 19, 1915.



Illustration of the Queen Elizabeth class from Brassey's Naval Annual of 1923


HMS Barham




Use in the war:

Since the commissioning of the First World War already raged, the HMS Barham was immediately assigned to Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where the ship was appointed in early 1916 flagship under the leadership of Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas.

On the night of May 31, to June 1, 1916, the Barham participated in the Battle of the Skagerrak. Despite the firing of 337 shells, the ship could sink no German ship, in return received five hits, which cost 25 crew members the life.

By the end of the war, the ship did not take part in any further combat operations.




Use after the war:

After the First World War, the HMS Barham remained in the Grand Fleet.

In the period from 1931 to 1934, extensive rebuilding and modernization measures were carried out on the ships of the Queen Elizabeth class. Thus, the Barham got a single chimney, the armor was particularly strengthened against torpedoes and maritime mines, modern anti-aircraft guns were mounted and the ship got a Aircraft catapult.



The HMS Barham together with the HMS Malaya and the aircraft carrier HMS Argus during maneuvers in the Mediterranean in the late 1920s


HMS Barham in Suda Bay, Greece




Use in the Second World War:

When World War II began, HMS Barham was in Malta. Together with the destroyers HMS Duchess, HMS Diana and HMS Dainty the ship should return to the UK. On the way there, the ships drove a zigzag course as an attack by German submarines was feared. Between Scotland and Northern Ireland on December 12, 1939 thick fog prevailed, so that the Barham rammed in a course change the HMS Duchess and broke the ship in two parts. Of the 145 crew, only 23 could be saved.

On December 28, 1939, the HMS Barham drove off the northwest coast of Scotland, when the ship was hit by a torpedo of the German submarine U-30 on the port side. Four crew members were killed and the ship had to dock in Liverpool until June 30, 1940 for repair.

After France capitulated on June 22, 1940, Britain's preparations began to take control of parts of the French fleet and ports in North Africa. The HMS Barham was scheduled for September 24, 1940 for Operation Menace, the occupation of the port of Dakar in French West Africa. There was a firefight with the French battleship Richelieu and the coastal guns, the Barham got some hits. Since the British firepower was insufficient, the operation had to be stopped.

Subsequently, the HMS Barham was assigned to the Force H in Gibraltar and secured convoys in the Mediterranean. In March and May 1941, the ship participated in the fighting at Cape Matapan and Crete, where it was 27 May 1941 a hit one of the coastal guns of Malta received. This killed five crew members and the ship had to be repaired in Alexandria makeshift. By the end of August, it was in Durban, where it was completely repaired.





On November 25, 1941, the HMS Barham ran with other British ships from the Egyptian port of Sollum to intercept an Italian convoy on its way to Libya. North of the Egyptian community Sidi Barrani, the association was attacked by the German submarine U-331. At 16:30 clock three torpedoes hit the eighth tower group, whereupon the ship got hit.

As the ship began to sink, the rear ammunition magazine exploded, causing the Barham to sink within four minutes. 862 crew members were killed, 450 were still rescued.

The sinking of the HMS Barham was filmed by a cameraman on the HMS Valiant. The video of the fall can be found here:  Click here!



The explosion of HMS Barham




Ship data:


HMS Barham


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





John Brown & Company, Clydebank


2.470.113 Pfund Sterling


October 31, 1914


October 19, 1915


On 25 November 1941 torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-331


195 meters


27,6 meters


Max. 9,3 meters


Max. 33.000 tons


925 to 951 men


24 Yarrow boiler

4 Brown-Curtis steam turbines


76.575 PS (56.321 kW)

Maximum speed:  

24 kn (44 km/h)




8 × fast-fire gun 381 mm L / 42

12 × rapid fire protection 152 mm L / 45

2 × Anti Aircraft 102 mm

2 × Anti Aircraft 76 mm

4 × torpedo tube ⌀ 533 mm


Belt: 102-330 mm

Citadel: 152 mm

Upper deck: 25 mm

Upper armor deck: 32-45 mm

Lower armor deck: 25-76 mm

Towers: 127-330 mm

Barbettes: 102-254 mm

Casemate: 152 mm

Front command tower: 102-279 mm

Aft control station: 102-152 mm

Transverse bulkheads: 51-152 mm

Torpedo bulkhead: 51 mm

Chimneys: 38 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

Click here!



The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

Click here!



British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

Click here!



British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

Click here!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!