Naval Campaigns and Battles – World War II – to May 1941


One of the joys of Naval Wargaming the Second World War Period is the number of different battles and campaigns that are available to be played. These vary from large carrier actions in the Pacific between, principally, the US and Japanese Fleets, Atlantic actions based around the Royal Navy attempting to track down and eliminate German Raiders, to the Mediterranean Sea with French, British (including Commonwealth) and Italian ships squaring off against each other to the Indian Ocean with Japanese vessels squaring off against the Royal Navy. These Battles may be large affairs with many vessels and aircraft on each side (such as the Battle of Midway); medium sized actions where the hunter becomes the hunted, and then becomes the hunter again, such as the Battle of Matapan in the Mediterranean; or small actions such as the hunt for the Graf Spee and the Battle of the River Plate, involving four ships.

I will admit that some of the ship collections I have are the result of purchasing a battle pack from Navwar (Philippines Sea and Matapan are two of these). Others are the result of collecting the ships necessary for the smaller actions.

The smaller actions will be detailed in separate little articles like this. They are likely to be in no particular order at the moment. The ship lists will refer to the vessels that were there, or that could conceivably have got there in time for the battle. At some point in the future I’ll work out how to put up naval maps and maybe include those – changing the structure of this to an article per battle. This is will probably end up doing anyway, sort of a scenario article, as I will include technical details of the vessels involved as well as their General Quarters definition. These articles will probably be published as a PDF file and sit in the downloads section of Thomo’s Hole. Check in there from time to time.

Battle of the River Plate – 13 December 1939

This was fought off the coast of South America (near the mouth of the River Plate) and involved three cruisers; HMS Exeter (8″ cruiser); HMNZS Achilles (6″ cruiser); and HMS Ajax (6″ cruiser) squaring off against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. A fourth cruiser, HMS Cumberland (also an 8″ cruiser), was in the Falklands at the time under repair but, with slightly different timing, could have been part of the battle as she was a member of that cruiser squadron.

The Graf Spee was damaged, took shelter in Montevideo Harbour and was later scuttled by the Germans.

Off Trondheim, Norway – 8 April 1940

This was a brief action when HMS Glowworm, totally outgunned by the German Hipper, attempted to do as much damage as possible to the Hipper by ramming. The Glowworm was sunk. This, as a naval action, is made all the more bizarre as the Captain of the Glowworm was recommended for a Victoria Cross to the British government by the Captain of the Hipper.

First Battle of Narvik – 10 April 1940

This engagement was fought in the area of Narvik, Norway and involved the Second Destroyer Flotilla attemting to destroy a number of German transports. The transports were protected by German warships. The ships involved on the British side were HMS Hardy, Havock, Hostile, Hotspur and Hunter. On the German side were the vessels Anton Schmitt, Wilhelm Heidkamp, Bernd von Arnim, Di Ether von Roeder, Erich Giese, Erich Koelnner, Georg Thiele, Hans Ludemann, Hermann Kunne, Wolfgang Zenker, U64 and a number of transports.

Second Battle of Narvik – 13 April 1940

The British returned 3 days after the first battle of Narvik to complete their mission (which they did). Vessels involved from the British side were HMS Warspite, Eskimo, Cossack and 7 other destroyers. On the German side were the vessels Bernd von Arnim, Di Ether von Roeder, Erich Giese, Erich Koelnner, Georg Thiele, Hans Ludemann, Hermann Kunne, Wolfgang Zenker, U64 and a number of transports.

Off Norway – 8 June 1940

HMS Glorious, Acasta and Ardent on the British side, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on the German side.

Set to #1 – 19 June 1940

The Galileo Galilei is captured by HMS Moonstone.

Set to #2 – 23 June 1940

Probably somewhere in the Mediteranean the Evangelista Torcelli faces off against HMS Kandahar, Kingston and the sloop Shoreham.

Set to #3 – 28 June 1940

HMAS Sydney squares off against the Italian Espero in the company of two destroyers.

Action Off Dakar – 5 July 1940

HMS Hermes in company with HMS Dorsetshire and HMAS Australia faces up against the French vessel Richelieu.

Action off Oran – 3 July 1940

Force H plus the Ark Royal faces off the French vessels Bretagne, Dunkerque, Provence, Strasbourg and a number of destroyers.

The Action off Calabria or the Battle of Punto Stila – 9 July 1940

The British ships, HMS Warspite, Malaya, Royal Sovereign, Eagle, Force H(??), Gloucester, Neptune, Liverpool, Orion, HMAS Sydney plus cruisers and destroyers opposed an Italian fleet consisting of 2 battleships, 14 cruisers and 32 destroyers plus the Guilio Cesare and Cavour.

Action off Cape Spada – 19 July 1940

HMAS Sydney along with some destoyers, namely HMS Hasty, Havock, Hero, Hyperion and Ilex were engaged with the Italians Bartolomeo Colleoni and Bande Nere.

Action off Cape Spartivento, Sardinia – 27 November 1940

Force H and the Mediterranean Fleet engaged Italian vessels off Sardinia. The British vessels were HMS Renown, Ark Royal, Despatch, Sheffield, Ramilles, Newcastle, Berwick and Coventry. The Italian vessels were 2 battleships, 7 heavy cruisers and destroyers.

Set to #4 – 12 December 1940

HMS Furious and Berwick versus the German Hipper.

Action off Sfax, Tunisia – 16 April 1941

HMS Janus, Jervis, Mohawk and Nubian v the Italian destroyers (I think), Baleno, Lampo, Tarigo and 5 transport vessels.

Set to #5 – 8 May 1941

HMS Cornwall versus the German Pinguin

The Hunt for the Bismarck – 18 – 28 May 1941

The British took exception to the German Battleship Bismarck being in the Atlantic Ocean so mobilsed pretty much every available ship to track the Bismarck down and eventually destroy her. This was, or course, where HMS Hood was sunk from fire from the Bismarck. On the British side were ships HMS Cossack, Maori, Sikh, Zulu, the Polish Piorun, HMS Hood, Prince of Wales, Suffolk, Norfolk, Renown, Ark Royal, Repulse, Rodney, Sheffield, Dorsetshire and Victorious.

The German vessels involved were Bismarck (or course) and Prinz Eugen,

More will be added to Thomo’s Hole later.

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