Sunday 29 June 2014

HMS Nelson, Operation Husky.

9-Jun-43          Nelson arrived in Scapa Flow and Vice Admiral Willis again raised his flag. She then went on to exercise with battleships Rodney, Valiant and Warspite off Cape Wrath. The new radar system improved the accuracy of the big guns fire such that all the towed targets were destroyed in fifteen minutes and the shoot had to cease.
17-Jun-43        Exercises completed and crew back on full war readiness Nelson sailed from Scapa with carrier Indomitable, battleships Rodney Valiant and Warspite and destroyers Echo, Faulknor, Fury, Inglefield, Intrepid, Offa, Panther, Pathfinder, Quail, Queenborough, Quilliam and Polish vessel Piorun.
23-Jun-43        Group arrives in Gibraltar, after a very rough passage, ready to take part in Operation Husky.
Landings for Operation Husky, The Invasion of Sicily.

9-Jul-43           Nelson rendezvoused with 27 other naval vessels to protect the convoys assembling for the start of Operation Husky. The landings were to be in two main areas. The Western Force was to be all American and the Eastern force, landing in the South East of Sicily was to be British and Canadian. Nelson’s group were sent to the east to guide in the convoys for the eastern landings and protect them from interruption by the Italian Fleet. During the night of the 10th landings by American and British paratroopers and glider forces took place. Strong winds meant that the forces were scattered and delivered to the wrong places. However they did disrupt the enemy arriving at the beaches and took some of their strategic targets.
10-Jul-43         The Amphibious landings took place and the strong winds caused delays and errors in navigation. Fortunately the enemy thought that it would be too rough for landings to take place and so there was very little opposition. At 0730 Nelson bombards Catania with her 16” guns then patrols the Ionian Sea
13-Jul-43         Escort destroyers Echo and Ilex sink an Italian Submarine.
14-Jul-43         Under air attack from Italian torpedo bombers.
15-Jul-43         Nelson runs to Malta to refuel.
16-Jul-43         Leaves Malta to continue with patrols. That evening the carrier Indomitable was torpedoed by a Ju-88 and Nelson escorted her back to the safety of Malta. Following this she returned to her patrols and later put inshore to bombard the port of Catania in support of ground operations.
17-Jul-43         Nelson returns to Malta

Refueling HMS Ilex from HMS Nelson.

20-Jul-43         Nelson was in Malta when a very heavy air raid by 30 bombers caused severe damage and loss of life ashore. Shore parties were sent out to assist. The evaporators aboard Nelson were playing up and there was a severe shortage of water aboard. I expect that it got pretty smelly aboard with the heat and 1756 crew in such a small space.

Most of August was spent supporting the ground forces in action in Sicily. The main forces of German and Italian troops evacuated the island by 17th August. Between 27th and 29th Nelson was on exercise for Operation Hammer, the bombardment of the coastal batteries North East of Reggio di Calabria.

30-Aug-43       At 1900 Nelson left Malta in company with Rodney, cruiser Orion and ten destroyers.

31-Aug-43       Firing was commenced at 1000 from 30000yds. Rodney opened fire at 1030. At 1200 all fire was stopped and the targets were silenced permanently. By 2000 the force were all back in Malta.

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