HMS Valiant

HMS Valiant was a Queen Elizabeth class battleship that fought at the battle of Jutland during the First World War, and at Oran, Matapan, Crete, Sicily and Salerno during the Second World War. She joined the Fifth Battle Squadron in March 1915. She fought at Jutland, taking part in the battlecruiser phase of the battle, but escaped without damage.

Between the wars she was modernised twice, once in 1929-30 when her two funnels were merged into one and she was given an anti-torpedo bulge that added fifteen feet to her width.

HMS Malaya at New York
HMS Malaya at New York

HMS Malaya at New York
HMS Malaya being bombed

HMS Malaya at New York
HMS Malaya

At the start of the Second World War she was part of the Home Fleet. In June 1940 she escorted the troop convoy returning from Norway. In August it was decided to send the Valiant, the aircraft carrier Illustrious and two anti-aircraft cruisers to reinforce Admiral Andrew Cunningham in the Mediterranean. In June 1940 the Valiant was attached to Force H, based at Gibraltar (under the command of Admiral Sir James Somerville, flagship HMS Hood). On 3 July she took part in the attack on the French fleet at Oran.

On 30 August 1940 they left Gibraltar, and made the dangerous run through the central Mediterranean.

On 28 March 1941 HMS Valiant was one of the three battleships (with Warspite and Barham) that took part in the battle of Matapan. Warspite and Valiant sank the Italian cruiser Fiume with 15in gunfire, and then all three battleships crippled the cruiser Zara, before the destroyers finished her off.

On 21 April the three battleships took part in a naval bombardment of Tripoli, opening fire at 5am. Much to Cunningham’s surprise the fleet got away undamaged, mostly because the Luftwaffe was absent. Despite this success, Admiral Cunningham remained opposed to the further bombardments.

HMS Valiant off Sabang 1945
HMS Valiant off Sabang 1945

On 20 May 1941 she was posted to the west of Crete, with Warspite, to guard against any Italian intervention on the island. She was bombed during the fighting around Crete, but without suffering severe damage, and on 1 June she and Queen Elizabeth were the only British battleships left in the eastern Mediterranean.

That changed on 19 December 1941. Six Italian frogmen from Decimo MAS broke into Alexandria harbour, and planted torpedoes below the Allied battleships. Both Valiant and Queen Elizabeth were badly damaged in the attack, but they were in shallow water at the time, and the Italians never realised how successful they had been.

HMS Valiant was back in service in time to support the July 1943 invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landings of mid September. At the end of the war she was part of the British Eastern Fleet, where she took part in an attack on Sabang, Sumatra.


As built

After refit

Displacement (loaded)

31,500t (design)
33,910t (as built)


Top Speed




4,500 nautical miles at 10kts


Armour – deck



 - belt



 - bulkheads



 - barbettes



 - turret faces



 - conning tower




645ft 9in



Eight 15in Mk I guns
Fourteen 6in Mk XII guns
Two 3in Mk I AA guns
Four 3pdr saluting guns
Four 21in submerged torpedo tubes

Eight 15in Mk I gins
Twenty 4.5in quick firing guns
Thirty Two 2pdr pompons
Fifty four 20mm Oerlikon AA guns

Crew complement




4 November 1914


February 1916


Captain Woollcombe

Sold for break up


Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 November 2007), HMS Valiant ,

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