Captain T. E.
Captain and Commander of the WWII battleship "King
Source: The Royal Navy: HMS King George V
HMS King George V)
(British Battleship, 1939-1958)
At sea off Japan in company with U.S. Third Fleet ships
on 16 August 1945, the day after the Japanese Government
agreed to surrender.
Photographed from USS Bon Homme
Just beyond King George V
is USS Missouri
(BB-63), with a British destroyer alongside. An Essex
class aircraft carrier is in the distance.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in
the collections of the U.S. National Archives.
of HMS King George V
The King George V battleships were designed by the
Admiralty in 1936 under the restrictions of the
Washington Treaty. She was laid down at the Walker Navy
Yard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd.
Originally, she was to have been named HMS King George VI
following the tradition of naming the first capital ship
of a new reign after the monarch. The King requested that
the ship be named in honour of his late father, King
George V, after whom an earlier class of battleships had
been named in 1911. A later member of this class of
battleship was named HMS Duke of York in honour of the
King instead - the other ships of this class were HMS
Prince of Wales (sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers in the
South China Sea, 10 December 1941), HMS Howe and HMS
The King George V was launched by King George VI on 21st
February 1939 and, following fitting-out and sea trials,
she was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 1st October
1940. She was assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa
Flow, and this remained her principal base until 1944.
From here, as flagship of the Home Fleet, she
participated in several North Atlantic operations
protecting the Arctic convoys. Alongside her sister
ships, she provided a deterrent against the threat of the
German capital ships Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau,
Prinz Eugen and Tirpitz. In May 1941 she led the fleet in
the attack, and sinking, of the Bismarck in the North
Atlantic, although she nearly had to turn for home before
the end as she was running low on fuel.
In 1943 she was temporarily detached to duties in the
Mediterranean, and was involved in the invasion of Sicily
and attack on Taranto. In 1944 she was redeployed to the
new British Pacific Fleet as the flagship of the fleet's
second-in-command, Rear Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings.
Although both she and her sister ship HMS Howe had a much
reduced role compared with the North Atlantic campaign,
often providing anti-aircraft cover for the fleet's
aircraft carriers, they were both involved in the
bombardments of Okinawa and southern Honshu, where the
King George V last fired her main armament in anger.
Following the end of World War Two, the battleships of
the King George V Class had become obsolete and expensive
to run. Refitted in 1946/47, she was reduced to a
training role in Portland. In 1950 the class was laid up
in reserve in Gareloch. After the scrapping of the class
was approved in 1957, she was broken up at Dalmuir and
Troon the following year.
Officers & Admirals
15 July 1940: Captain W R Patterson
1 April 1941: Admiral Sir J C Tovey - CinC Home Fleet
6 May 1942: Captain P J Mack
February 1943: Captain T E Halsey
10 April 1945: Captain B B Schofield
June 1945: Rear Admiral Sir H B Rawlings - 2iC British
24 November 1945: Admiral Sir E N Syfret - CinC Home
The sun sets behind Mount Fujiyama on 27 August 1945, as
seen from USS Missouri
anchored in Sagami Wan, outside of Tokyo Bay. Ships of
the U.S. Third Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet are in
the distance. Closest to the camera, in center, is HMS Duke
of York, with HMS King
George V next beyond her.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in
the collections of the National Archives.
and Battle Honours
1 January 1937: Laid down at Walker Navy Yard,
21 February 1939: Launched by HM King George VI
1 October 1940: Commissioned - pendant number 41
11 December 1940: Joins Home Fleet at Scapa Flow
1941-1944: Providing distant cover for Arctic convoys
15-25 January 1941: Conveys Lord Halifax to USA to take
up his new position as British Ambassador. Returns with a
2-6 March 1941: Operation 'Claymore'. Home Fleet
provides cover for successful Commando raid on fish oil
factories in Lofoten Islands.
1 April 1941: Flagship of Home Fleet - Admiral Sir John
Cronyn Tovey (to May1943)
22-27.May 1941: Bismarck Action in North Atlantic
culminating in the sinking of the German battleship at
1035 on the 27th 600 miles west of Brest.
October 1941: Operation 'EJ'. In support of
aircraft carrier HMS Victorious in action against German
shipping along the Norwegian coast.
December 1941: Home Fleet provides seaward cover for
Commando raid on Vaagso Island.
1 May 1942: Collides in fog with HMS Punjabi. The
destroyer is sliced in two by the battleship, and
sinks. Punjabi's depth-charges explode, blowing
40ft from the bows of the battleship, requiring repairs
and refitting at Liverpool.
July 1942: Returns to Home Fleet at Scapa Flow
May-August 1943: Reinforces Force H, with HMS Howe, for
operations supporting Operation 'Husky', the Allied
invasion of Sicily.
12 July 1943: HMS King George V and HMS Howe bombard
Trapani, Sicily and Favigana, Island of Levanzo.
9 September 1943: Operation 'Slapstick'. Attack on
Italian Naval base at Taranto at the same time as
Operation 'Avalanche', the Allied landings at Salerno.
October 1943: Returns to Home Fleet at Scapa Flow
December 1943-January 1944: Returns to Gibraltar to
collect Winston Churchill following Cairo and Tehran
February-July 1944: Refit at Liverpool in preparation for
re-deployment to the Eastern Fleet
October 1944: Temporarily returns to Scapa Flow to cover
possible threat from Tirpitz before she was sunk by the
RAF on 12 November.
28 October-15 December 1944: Sails to Trincomalee,
Ceylon, to join newly-formed British Pacific Fleet (BPF).
Hoists flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings,
second-in-command BPF and the fleet's tactical commander
November 1944: Whilst on passage stopped at Alexandria -
bombards German positions at the Lakida Battery, Milos in
January-February 1945: Sails to Sydney. Whilst underway,
completes her first at-sea refuelling taking 12 hours.
February-March 1945: Sails to Manus, Admiralty Islands
(forward base of operations for the BPF) as part of Task
March 1945: Joins US Pacific Fleet under Admiral Chester
Nimitz (CinC Pacific) for Operation 'Iceberg' - the
Allied invasion of Okinawa.
20 March 1945: Arrives at Ulithi (SW of Guam), base of
the US 5th Fleet under Admiral Spruance. British fleet
re-designated Task Force 57.
26-27 March 1945: Royal Navy task force attacks 6
Japanese airfields on the islands SW of Okinawa.
July 1945: HMS King George V becomes first RN warship to
refuel at sea abeam of the tanker (previously hoses were
streamed astern of the tanker, but they were very
susceptible to parting)
29 July 1945: Involved in bombardment of Hamamatsu, in
the south of Honshu. Start 2319, range to target
20,075 yards, fired 265 14" shells (of which only 7
actually hit the target), firing ceases 2356. This is the
last time HMS King George V fired her main armament in
15 August 1945: VJ Day
27 August 1945: Anchored in Sagami Wan with rest of
Pacific Fleet. Continuously at sea for 52 days (since 6
July) - a record for an RN battleship, steaming a total
of 19,200 miles.
2 September 1945: Formal Japanese surrender signed on
board USS Missouri - HMS King George V provided the
chairs for the signatories.
2 March 1946: Returns to Portsmouth. Flagship of CinC
December 1946: Refit at Devonport
November 1947: Training battleship based at Portland
July 1949: Admiralty announces that the King George V
Class to be laid up in reserve
June 1950: Towed to Gareloch where she is 'cocooned'
(i.e. 'mothballed') alongside HMS Anson and Duke of York.
April 1957: Approval of class to be scrapped.
17 December 1957: HMS King George V removed from Royal
1958: Broken up by Arnott Young & Co at Dalmuir. Hull
towed to Troon for breaking up.
Bismarck Action 1941
George V Class Statistics
Displacement: 44,460 tons
Length: 745 feet
Beam: 103 feet
Draught: 35.5 feet
Complement: 1,314 to 1,631
Speed: 27.5 knots
10 x 14-inch guns
16 x 5.2-inch guns
64 x 2-pounders
Machinery: Geared Turbines, 110,000 shp, 4 screws
There has been been two warships to bear the name King
George V, both were battleships, and both were named
after King George V, each taking their place in the
history of the Royal Navy.
George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert Windsor, né
Wettin1) (3 June 1865-20 January 1936) was King of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (from 1927,
King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland) and Emperor of India from 6 May 1910 until his
death. He was the first British monarch of the House of
Windsor. He was born at Marlborough House
King George V (1911-1926)
The first HMS King George V was a King George V-class
dreadnought, with a displacement of 23,400 tonnes and an
armament of 10 x 13.5-inch guns in twin turrets and 16 x
4-inch guns and had a crew complement of 870, though this
increased substantially by 1916 to 1,110, and had a
length of 597 feet. She took part in the Battle of
Jutland, being the lead ship of the 1st Division of the
2nd Battle Squadron. Her sister-ships were Centurion,
Audacious and Ajax. Audacious was sunk by a mine off
Northern Ireland, the rest survived WW, until
decommissioned by 1924.
King George V herself was decommissioned in 1919, used as
a training ship between 1923-26 and scrapped in 1926.
King George V (1939-1958)
The second HMS King George V was the name-ship of a class
of battleships that included such iconic names as Prince
of Wales, Duke of York, Anson and Howe. She had a
relatively weak armament in comparison to other warships
of the Royal Navy that were built after ignoring the
London Naval Limitation Treaty became common practice.
King George V and the four other ships of the Class were
most crucially out-gunned by the massive German
battleship Bismarck and her sister-ship Tirpitz.
She was the flagship of the Home Fleet under the command
of Admiral Sir John Tovey, and was involved in the
legendary chase for the Bismarck. On the 27 May, she and
Rodney, poured an incredible number of shells into to the
hull of the ill-fated German ship.
Following the successful destruction of Bismarck, the
ship was involved in a tragic accident, in which she
collided with the destroyer HMS Punjabi, resulting in the
sinking of the latter ship and minimal damage for King
George V during the spring of 1942. She also covered the
landings at Sicily, as well as having the prestigious
honour of taking Churchill back to Britain from the
From 1944 to the surrender of Japan, King George V served
with the British Pacific Fleet, being present at Japan
during the official surrender ceremony. She was
recommissioned as flagship of the Home Fleet in 1946, but
was decommissioned just three years later into the
Reserve Fleet and subsequently scrapped at Dalmuir in
1957. All King George V Class ships survived WWII, with
the exception of the Prince of Wales. The other four,
including King George V, were scrapped in the same year
in 1957, though each secured their place in the history
books of the Royal Navy.
This page was last updated May 5, 2004.