Allied Warships

HMS Barham (04)

Battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class

HMS Barham just before exploding

NavyThe Royal Navy
ClassQueen Elizabeth 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
OrderedJun 1912 
Laid down24 Feb 1913 
Launched31 Dec 1914 
Commissioned19 Aug 1915 
Lost25 Nov 1941 
Loss position32° 34'N, 26° 24'E

Rebuilt during 1930/1933. 2 8-barrelled 2 pdr pom pom mounts, one on either side of the the funnel, 8 0.5" (2x4) machine guns (aft of the forward conning tower) and a HA DCT (High Angle Director Control Tower) at the head of the foremast were added. The pole mainmast was replaced with a tripod mast to support a second HA DCT. During the war 16 2 pdr pom pom guns (2x8) replaced the 8 x 0.5" (2x4) machine guns (aft of the forward conning tower), 12 0.5" machine guns (3x4) were added, 2 mounts on B turret and 1 mount on X turret.

During the First World War, she served in the North Sea with the Grand Fleet. She was present at the Battle of Jutland. After the end of that conflict HMS Barham was an active member of the British battle fleet. The battleship was modernized in 1930/1933, emerging with a single smokestack, enhanced protection against long-range gunfire, bombs and torpedoes, an improved anti-aircraft gun battery and an aircraft catapult.

During the Second World War HMS Barham operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. She was damaged by a torpedo from the German submarine U-30 on 28 December 1939, while at sea north of the Hebrides in position 58º47'N, 08º05'W. In September 1940, she engaged the French battleship Richelieu at Dakar, Senegal. Barham was in the Mediterranean in 1941, taking part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March and receiving bomb damage in May.

On 25 November 1941, while steaming to cover an attack on Italian convoys, HMS Barham (Capt. Geoffrey Clement Cooke, RN) was hit at 1629 hours north of Sidi Barrani, in position 32º34'N, 26º24'E by three torpedoes from the German submarine U-331. As she rolled over to port, her after magazines exploded and the ship quickly sank with the loss 862 members of her crew. There were 449 survivors.


Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 28 Dec 1939 by U-30 (Lemp).
Sunk on 25 Nov 1941 by U-331 (Tiesenhausen).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Barham

Commands listed for HMS Barham (04)

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1Capt. Sir Harold Thomas Coulthard Walker, RN31 Jan 193925 Mar 1940
2Capt. Geoffrey Clement Cooke, RN25 Mar 194025 Nov 1941 (+)

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Notable events involving Barham include:

28 Nov 1939
HMS Oswald (Lt.Cdr. G.M. Sladen, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. During these exercises she also made a practice attack on HMS Barham (Capt. Sir H.T.C. Walker, RN). (1)

28 Dec 1939
HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN) was damaged by a torpedo fired from German U-boat U-30 off the Hebrides in position 58°47'N, 08°05W. She was out of action for six months (completed on 30 June 1940) while she was being repaired at Birkenhead by Cammell Laird,

7 Nov 1940
HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) refuelled at Gibraltar then left for Alexandria in company of battleship HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN).

21 Apr 1941
Submarine HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. H.A.V. Haggard, RN) acts as beacon for the Mediterranean Fleet during a bombardment of Tripoli. The bombardment was carried out by the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), and HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, RN), light cruiser HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), and destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), and HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN). The Italian torpedo boat Partenope and six freighters were damaged in the bombardment. According to Italian sources the steamers Assiria (2705 GRT, built 1928) and Marocchino (1524 GRT, built 1920) sank in shallow waters, the motorboat Ciconetti sank in deep waters and the steamer Sabbia (5787 GRT, built 1926) was damaged.

Later on this day Truant attacks what is believed to be the small Italian tanker V 52/ Rosa (246 GRT, 1922) with 2 torpedoes off Tripoli, Libya. Both torpedoes missed their target. Italian sources cannot confirm the identity of the ship attacked.

(All times are zone -2)
In position 033° Tajura 3.5 nautical miles sighted an Italian Auxiliary to the Southward. Closed to attack.

1410 hours - In only 50 feet of water fired 2 torpedoes from 2000 yards. The torpedoes were sighted by the enemy which altered course to avoid.

1430 hours - Surfaced and proceeded to deeper water on the main engines.

1520 hours - Dived. (2)

Media links

British Battleships of World War One

R. A. Burt
(EUR 72.27)

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 45.00)
(EUR 44.86)

British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt
(£ 59.50)
(EUR 78.00)

British battleships 1939-45 (1)

Konstam, Angus
($ 17.95)
(£ 9.99)
(EUR 16.32)

A Midshipman's War

Wade, Frank
($ 81.21)


  1. ADM 173/15863
  2. ADM 199/1861

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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