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    Normandy Bombardment Ship - the First to Fire

    HMS Warspite(03) - "Grand Old Lady"- The Most Battle Honors of Any Royal Navy Ship.
    HMS Warspite (03) was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship, commissioned in 1915, the sixth to bear the name, origins of which are unclear. It is probably from the Elizabethan spelling of the word 'spite' - in part embodying contempt for the Navy's enemies. (However, it may have a double entendre as it is also the common name for the European green woodpecker, suggesting the 'Warspite' would poke holes in enemy ships' wooden hulls). She served briefly in WWI. During the interwar period, the ship was deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, often serving as flagship, and was thoroughly modernized during the mid-1930's. She was nicknamed the "Grand Old Lady".

    This flag is a jack. While all commissioned warships in the WWII navies of the British Empire wore the White Ensign, the individual ships wore the Union Flag as a jack. A jack is a flag of national character, flown at the bow when at anchor or moored, or dressing ship and elsewhere under special circumstances. This jack is a 72" x 141" completely sewn, wool flag, finished with a roped canvas header with a wooden toggle and a lead-line and loop. The jack is marked on the upper obverse hoist "HMS Warspite" and stenciled "12 FT JACK".

    During the Second World War, Warspite was involved in the Norwegian Campaign, before her transfer to the Mediterranean, where she was damaged by the Luftwaffe. She sailed under her own power to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard in Washington for repairs, where she was when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After rejoining the eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean, she returned to the Mediterranean to support the allied landings at Salerno, where she was damaged by a German radio-controlled bomb and spent the next several months under repair. She was detailed to Operation Neptune, the naval component of Operation Overlord, the Invasion of Normandy, where she was attached to the Eastern Task Force's "S" Force, Assault Group S.3, Bombardment Group D, assigned to Sword Beach. Warspite anchored off Sword Beach in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944 and at 05:00 she was the first ship to open fire. Her targets were the German Villerville and Mont Canisy batteries, upon which she would deliver over 300 shells over the next two days, pausing only to rearm. She returned to Normandy on July 9th to support American forces on Utah Beach and the British on Gold Beach. She was now a bombardment ship and fired her guns for the last time at Walcheren in September. This jack is from one of the most storied vessels of the Royal Navy and would grace any D-Day, naval war or WWII collection.

    In the Royal Navy, battle honors are cumulative to ship. Ships named Warspite have earned the following battle honors, the most of any Royal Navy ship, 25 in total and 15 for this ship specifically: Cadiz 1596; Orfordness 1666 ; Sole Bay 1672 ; Schooneveld 1673 ; Texel 1673 ; Barfleur 1692; Velez Malaga 1705; Marbella 1705; Lagos 1759; Quiberon 1759; Jutland 1916; Atlantic 1939; Narvik 1940; Norway 1940; Calabria 1940; Mediterranean 1940-41-43; Malta Convoys 1941; Matapan 1941; Crete 1941; Sicily 1943; Salerno 1943; English Channel 1944; Normandy 1944; Biscay 1944; and Walcheren 1944.

    This jack is in Good to Fair Condition - used and frayed along the fly edge, but otherwise complete.

    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

    For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2019
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 994

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