Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From the Darkness, Light!

“From the darkness, light” was the motto of a G-class destroyer that was commissioned into the Royal Navy service on 22nd of January 1936. It would meet its fate in the cold waters off Norway 4 years later, fighting what has to be one of the most out matched battles in the Royal Navies history. During which its captain won the first Victoria Cross of the Second World War. The ships name was HMS Glowworm, a name I suspect many of you will already heard of, if not the exact details of the fight.

Glowworm had a bumpy career being involved in two collisions, the first in 1939 was with her sister ship HMS Grenade, the second was with a Swedish ship Rex in 1940. After repairs Glowworm set out on her final mission escorting HMS Renown. This battlecruiser was the core of a small force sent to screen mine laying operations off Norway to prevent the German invasion of April 1940.

On the 6th of April a crewman at one of Glowworms torpedo launchers was washed overboard in very heavy seas. The ship’s captain Lieutenant Commander Roope was well liked, and respected by his ships company, so it’s not surprising he requested permission to detach from the task force to search for the seaman. Renown gave the go ahead despite there being no chance at all to find the missing crewman.

Glowworm started a search which lasted about two hours and found no sign. During the search the ship had taken such a battering some of its navigating equipment had been damaged which made it hard to find and re-join Renown.

On the morning of the 8th Glowworm was still separated from the task force, when she saw another destroyer through thick fog at about 0800. Hailing the destroyer Glowworm asked for identification as the ship wasn't flying an ensign. Luckily it responded, and identified itself as Swedish, then opened fire! The ship was actually a German destroyer carrying troops to Norway. Glowworm responded, and is said to have caused quite some damage. Before too long another German destroyer appeared and joined in the attack on Glowworm.
Suddenly both ships broke off and ran for the cover of a rain squall. LTC Roope had a suspicion he was being lured towards a larger force, however he knew that the information of where the Germans were would be invaluable to the Royal Navy, so he pursued.

As Glowworm emerged from the squall the huge bulk of the battlecruiser Admiral Hipper loomed into view. At first the Admiral Hipper had trouble telling the destroyers apart, however after a few moments she worked out which ship was the enemy and opened fire. Knowing he couldn't disengage, LTC Roope knew he had one chance. On his deck he had 10 Torpedo tubes. Glowworm signalled the information to Renown, and blowing smoke to provide herself with cover she turned to attack.

 The smoke had no effect. The Admiral Hipper had radar controlled main guns and continued to hurl shell after shell at the British destroyer. Glowworm took several punishing hits, but closed the range. Admiral Hippers guns were designed to take on armoured cruisers such as herself. She weighed 14000 tons, and wore 3 inches of armour. Glowworm in contrast weighed in at just under 1500 tons, had no armour and had four 4.7 inch guns which couldn't go through the German cruisers armour. So you can only imagine the damage that those 8 inch shells did.

Glowworm makes her first torpedo attack
Glowworm emerged from the smoke a mere 900 yards from the Admiral Hipper, at that range the German cruisers secondary armament engaged scoring several hits and felling Glowworms mast. This caused her siren to start shrieking. The high pitched shriek carried on for the rest of the battle. Glowworm launched her first spread of 5 torpedoes. All missed, some by mere feet. LTC Roope returned to the smoke screen to try and repair the second launcher.
Admiral Hipper didn't give the battered destroyer a chance. She came crashing through the smoke screen in pursuit. In the swirling fight that followed Glowworm managed to launch a second spread of torpedoes, which also missed. As Glowworm exited the smoke screen she saw Admiral Hipper parallel to her.

Things become confused at this point with conflicting accounts.

LTC Roope in some accounts is heard say "Stand by to ram!", what is known is the Glowworm, still shrieking, with all guns blazing rammed into the side of the Admiral Hipper, Ripping a 40 meter gash in the side of the cruiser. Through which 500 tons of water poured. The impact destroyed the Admiral Hippers desalination plant and a torpedo launcher. The German ship took on a 4 degree list. As Glowworm reeled away with her bows smashed. She was pelted by gun fire from the Germans; even Small arms were being fired at the crippled Destroyer. In return Glowworms last 4.7 mount continued firing.

Glowworm just after ramming
With no more means chance of victory, and on fire and shipping water LTC Roope ordered abandon ship. After making sure the evacuation was in progress LTC Roope went below to open the seacocks to ensure the ship sank.

Glowworm sinking, one of the figures is reportedly LTC Roope
 Despite being laden with needed soldiers for Norway, and despite the risk to his vessel from Submarines Captain Heye halted the Admiral Hipper down current from the sinking Glowworm, and ordered all hands on deck to help rescue survivors. Shortly afterwards Glowworm sunk beneath the oil covered sea, as she descended her depth-charges detonated tearing the ship apart.

LTC Roope was seen helping survivors into life jackets and assisting his men to climb out of the sea onto the nets and ropes being thrown overboard by the Admiral Hipper. At last no further sailors could be seen, a rope was thrown to LTC Roope, who grabbed hold and was hauled towards the deck. Suddenly a huge wave crashed against the side of the ship, and LTC Roope, his strength failing was lost.

Admiral Hipper carried on with her mission and after returning to port after the invasion Captain Heye took the then unprecedented step of writing to the British authorities through the Red Cross recommending LTC Roope for a VC.

However with only half the story, and unable to confirm the events the VC wasn't issued until 1945 when the 36 surviving crew members from HMS Glowworm were repatriated at the end of the war.

One of the soldiers on-board Admiral Hipper had a camera, so all action photographs were taken during the battle.

This website has the detailed stories of three of the survivors.


  1. What was the fate of Admiral Hipper after that event?

    1. Last Paragraph ;) Just below the crew being rescued from the Carley float:

      "Admiral Hipper carried on with her mission[...]"

      Some sources state she returned to port immediately. I decided to go with the referenced version from Wikipedia:


  2. AFAIK it went to repairs...but it probably ended like any other german big ship: so either a) sold to ruskies
    b) sunk in a fjord
    c) bombed
    d) sunk in some desperate action with other ships
    e) took damage beyond repair in some desperate action

  3. Something tells me WG's going to have a problem with that big swastika for WoWs.

    Either way, it's an inspiring story. The bravery of the crew to actually slug it out with a battlecruiser and then actually even ram it is astonishing.

    1. Thanks, There's plenty of inspiring and interesting tales out there, the fun of it is finding them.
      Don't worry we're back to WWII tanks next week, and its not British related in any way shape or form. Although the US do get a mention...

      I suspect the Ship marking will be dealt with exactly the same as every other game I've ever seen a giant black X

    2. Admiral Hipper is a Heavy Cruiser, not a battle cruiser.

      And there is a German naval ensign suitable for the game

      We have been busy on the forums thinking about these things.

    3. offtopic

      Frank Davis,

      so you didn't show up at gamescom? Well, I had a gift for you.

    4. I didn't :( I had some issues I had to deal with here. But then, to be fair, meeting you was the only thing I was really interested when it comes to WG.

    5. Alright then. Maybe another time.

  4. The Admiral Hipper was a Heavy Cruiser and not an Armoured Cruiser, her sister ships were the Blucher and the Prinz Eugen. After being repaired she carried out two Atlantic sorties in 1940-41 before being sent to Trondheim, she was decommissioned on 1 April 1943 but was recommissioned a year later but was not fully operational and was used as a training ship. at the end of the war she was sent to Gotenhafen where she picked up 1500 refugees and took them to Kiel, there she immobilized by bombs and on 3 May 1945 she was scuttled. After the war she was eventually moved to Heikendorfer Bay to be scrapped.

    1. Not being an expert on Ship classifications, what's the difference? Both were apparently a step down from a Battleship? The Hipper had 8" guns, which is CA levels of firepower?


    2. Armoured cruisers are the fore-runners of battle cruisers. They are roughly halfway between pre-Dreadnoughts, battle cruisers and heavy cruisers.

  5. Although I hate using Wikipedia as a cast iron source of info the following two paragraphs are from there as they do sum the differences up nicely.

    'The armored cruiser was not a close ancestor of heavy cruisers, even though the name sometimes suggests this. By 1905 the armored cruiser had grown in size and power to be very close to the pre-dreadnought battleships of the day, with a displacement of around 15,000 tons: considerably larger than the 10,000 tons of the heavy cruiser. This trend resulted in the battlecruiser, which was initially conceived as an armored cruiser on the same scale as the dreadnought battleship. By 1915, both battleships and battlecruisers had grown markedly; HMS Hood, for instance, designed at around that time, displaced 45,000 tons.

    In the interwar period, the great gap between heavy cruisers and the capital ships of the same generation meant that the heavy cruiser could not be expected to serve as a junior battleship. By contrast, armored cruisers were part of the main battleline along with pre-dreadnoughts, and some armored cruisers did maintain their place around dreadnoughts and battlecruisers.

    There were also important technical differences between the heavy cruiser and the armored cruiser, some of which reflected the generational gap between them. Heavy cruisers, like all contemporary ships, were typically powered by oil-fired steam turbine engines and were capable of far faster speeds than armored cruisers had ever been (propelled by coal-fired reciprocating steam engines of their era). Like their protected cruiser predecessors and contemporary light cruisers, heavy cruisers lacked a side armored belt, saving weight to achieve high speeds. The main armament of a heavy cruiser at a maximum 203 mm (8-inch) was smaller than the typical 233 mm (9.2-inch) guns of later armored cruisers. Nonetheless, heavy cruisers often had a larger number of main guns (some armored cruisers had a mixed instead of uniform complement of main guns), and discarded the mounting of main guns in casemates in favor of center-line superfiring turrets which saved tonnage and enabled the ship to fire all guns on one broadside. Heavy cruisers also benefited from the introduction of fire control in the 1920s and 30s, considerably improving accuracy.

    The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203mm calibre (8 inches in caliber) and displacing approximately 10,000 tons. While the general mission of the heavy cruiser to act as a fast scout for a battle fleet and protect and hunt down commerce was largely unchanged from the days of sail, its design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

    The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930. The heavy cruiser's immediate precursors were the light cruiser designs of the 1900s and 1910s, rather than the armoured cruisers of before 1905. When the armoured cruiser was supplanted by the battlecruiser, an intermediate ship type between this and the light cruiser was found to be needed—one larger and more powerful than the light cruisers of a potential enemy but not as large and expensive as the battlecruiser so as to be built in sufficient numbers to protect merchant ships and serve in a number of combat theaters.'

    Of course by WWII the German heavy cruiser had outgrown the 10,000 ton limit and were in the 15-20,000 ton range.

    1. Sorry, still not entirely clear.

      "By 1905 the armored cruiser had grown in size and power to be very close to the pre-dreadnought battleships of the day, [...] This trend resulted in the battlecruiser, [...]"

      It sounds from that passage that the terms BC and CA are just different names for the same class of vessels?
      Or is it simply a matter of weight bands?

      I realise it might be crystal clear to someone from the naval side of things, but from someone looking in from the outside...

      This reminds me of the time I started learning about Japanese tanks.

    2. Battle-cruisers are basically battleships with less armour and more SHP for a higher top speed (speed being their main protection).

      Heavy cruisers are smaller in terms of size and main guns. They were limited to 10,000 tonnes and 8" guns by the Washington Naval Treaty.

      The jobs that they are used for can be similar at times and very different at others.

    3. **runs in with a jerry can of petrol**

      So where do Pocket battleships fit into all this?


    4. Pocket Battleships are basically small battleships, designed for commerce raiding and countering other commerce raiders. The German pocket battleships were nominally 10,000 tonnes as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, which left their navy with only 6 pre-Dreadnought battleships of around 10,000 tonnes. By the early 1930s these needed replacing.

      There were a number of designs studied (which i can't tell you about because i'm on holiday so don't have the appropriate stuff)including an 8" cruiser, a monitor and a coastal battleship.

      Generally, compared to other battleships they lack protection. This is why the Deutschland class are currently due to be tier 4, because despite how modern they are some of their characteristics are lacking at times.

    5. All this classification is not at all sharp, but very blurred instead and it changed from nation to nation and also over time. But, Listy, if you want to write about such things, you have to get competent about them first - no offence. Don't just copy&merge sources, get to know about subject first. WoWs NA forum is pretty good for that, i strongly suggest you get involved there.

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  7. sorry for offtopic but i need to ask
    What with rebalance of KW-1S? How much gun depression it has in reality? maybe we don't need to cut off D2-5T gun just nefr gun depression from -8 to -6 like on IS tank? They have same turret, good i think? Peace