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The Navy in Action (1940 Footage)

Photo: What is believed to be the last image of HMS Glorious, taken from the deck of Ark Royal.


This dramatic British Pathé footage taken in the North Sea during 1940 shows various British warships of the Home Fleet in action, possibly as part of the Norwegian Campaign.

The names of the warships have not been used, likely for security reasons, but it seems likely this footage shows Operation ‘DX’. The task force was centred on the carriers Ark Royal and Glorious, both pictured in the footage, and the cruisers Curlew and Berwick, as well as the destroyers Hyperion, Hasty, Hereford, Fearless, Fury, Juno. HMS Hereford is identifiable in the film.

The operation, which took place in late April 1940, was the first time the Royal Navy used its carriers to protect other warships with their fighter aircraft. Ark Royal came under attack from German bombers on 27 April, as she returned to Scapa to refuel. This is likely the attack shown, Ark Royal was undamaged and returned to the fray two days later.

Each of the three ships we can identify were lost during the war, HMS Glorious was sunk by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 8 June, Ark Royal was torpedoed off Gibraltar and sank on 14 November 1941, and the H-class destroyer HMS Hereward was lost during the Battle of Crete on 29 May 1941.

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