In The Great War Warspite and her sisters were enrolled in the 5th Battle Squadron under Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas. They were temporarily attached to Admiral Beatty's Battlecruiser Fleet and except Queen Elizabeth (which was in dock) they all fought in the Battle of Jutland in 1916. This was their only major engagement during the war and the only major engagement of the fleets for that matter. Warspite took some severe beating at the battle. 13 hits from heavy calibre weapons weren’t enough to sink her but she was relieved of duty before the end of the battle and made for port to undergo much needed repairs.
They all survived the post-war cut downs and were refitted several times during the inter wars years. Especially Warspite, which underwent extensive reconstructions.
During WWII Warspite earned no less than 14 battle honours. In the Second Battle of Narvik Warspite’s airplane not only spotted for the artillery but also managed to sink a German submarine. This was the first case where a ship borne aircraft achieved such a feat and the only case when launched from a battleship.
She participated in multiple theatres and was severely damaged several times. Most noteworthy was a spectacular German attack with radio controlled dive bombs which turned the ship into an all but a total wreck. However she managed to stay afloat through the entire war and after 30 years of service she was one of the most distinguished ships ever to serve the Royal Navy.
The Fate of Warspite
After decommissioning the ship was approved for breaking up. She was towed from Portsmouth but during the journey she broke her towline and ran aground in Prussia Cove where she was sold for scrap and broken up.
Although the hard weather was considered the main factor for her grounding all sailors who knew the ship were fully aware that it was Warspite's true heart and soul that opposed her fate and made her final run for the seas...
Click here to see the never before publsihed photograph of the ships final restingplace.
The Fate of her sisters
Four out of five of the Queen Elizabeth battleships were scrapped after the war while Barham met a far more sinister fate. She was torpedoed by U-331 25th of November 1941. She sunk in less than 4 minutes and ttook 861 sailors with her to her eternal grave at the bottom of the Mediterranean.