HMS Nelson (28)

Nelson anchored during the May, 1937 Spithead Naval Review, to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. Photo in the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Laid Down

HMS Nelson (28) was the first of only two battleships to carry 16" (406mm) guns in the Royal Navy. Named for the Victor of Trafalgar, Nelson carried all of her main guns forward, in three triple turrets. Laid down in 1922, Nelson, and her sister Rodney, were designed and built to meet the allotment of two 35,000 ton battleships allowed to the Royal Navy in the Washington Naval Treaty. Nelson was commissioned in 1927, and served as the flagship of the Home Fleet until April, 1941. She spent most of the 1930s showing the flag with the fleet, and was heavily employed in the North Sea after the outbreak of war in 1939. This was curtailed when she struck a mine in December, putting her out of commission for months. Back in action in August, 1940, Nelson operated in the Atlantic until June, 1941, when she deployed to the Mediterranean. Nelson was torpedoed in September, and was under repair until the next May, when she returned to the Med. Nelson provided gunfire support for the North African, Sicilian, and Italian landings, and the Italians signed their armistice on her deck in September, 1943. Nelson provided gunfire support off Normandy, until she hit two mines on 18 June, and was laid up for repairs again until January, 1945. She operated in the Indian Ocean for the rest of the war, and received the surrender of the Japanese forces in Malaya on her deck on 2 September, while most of the world was focused on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Flagship of the Home Fleet from November, 1945 until July, 1946, Nelson was reassigned as a training ship, until decommissioned in 1948. She was then used for aerial bombing practice until sold for scrap in January, 1949.

Bonus Photos

Sailors from the South African Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve pose on one of the 16" guns in Nelson's A turret. Photo in the collection of the Imperial War Museums.